BANGKOK – East Timor President Francisco Guterres dissolved on Friday the parliament and called for new elections to bypass a political deadlock in the country.
Guterres, popularly known as “Lu-Olo,” said the election dates would be announced later.
“I am convinced that the People must be called to vote once again in order to help, to overcome the challenge that lies in our young democracy,” said Guterres, according to the president’s office webpage.
The decision comes after the minority government led by Mari Alkatiri of the Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor (FRETLIN) failed to pass a budget in the parliament.
Guterres, who is also from FRETLIN, said that the lack of a winner with a clear majority in the elections held in July 2017, was an opportunity for political leaders to hold talks and reach a consensus, but they could not do that.
He described the impasse as a serious institutional crisis and urged the young country, which became independent only in 2002, to be united.
“The President calls on the entire People to Vote in early parliamentary elections. Let’s all, Vote for the reinforcement of democracy, for the rule of law!” he added.
FRETLIN, which began as a resistance movement against Indonesian rule, obtained 23 of the 65 seats in the 2017 elections.
Former guerilla leader Xanana Gusmao’s National Congress for Timorese Reconstruction (CNRT), which had previously ruled with FRETLIN as a coalition, finished second with 22 seats.
East Timor, located on the eastern half of the island of Timor, has 1.2 million inhabitants and an economy that is heavily dependent on its oil and gas reserves in the Timor Sea, which experts predict will be exhausted in around 15 years.
East Timor gained independence in May 2002 after spending three years under United Nations administration and after 24 years of rule by Indonesia, following several centuries of Portuguese colonization.