ELECTION CAMPAIGN PLATFORM
I, FRANCISCO GUTERRES “LU OLO”
Present my candidacy to guarantee the consolidation of Peace and Stability and strengthen the course of justice for sustainable and balanced development.
We all know that we have experienced painful times since the Restoration of Independence, highlighted by the crisis in 2006/2007 and the attack on the President of the Republic on the 11th of February 2008. We all know that the crisis in 2006/07 emerged at the height of continuous institutional conflicts between the then President of the Republic, Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão, and the elected government led by the Prime Minister, Dr. Mari Alkatiri. On one side we had a President of the Republic who considered himself the epitome of a supra-partisan and INDEPENDENT figure, but who could never accept his appropriate place as Head of State and work together with the Government, a Government based on nearly a supermajority in the National Parliament. In summary the President of the Republic did not understand his role as Head of State in the semi-presidential system as prescribed in the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste. He therefore did not accept the system established by our Constitution, a Constitution approved by the Constituent Assembly. I presided over this assembly soon after coming down from the mountains after 24 years of armed struggle. On the other side, our people expected and demanded that independence should immediately result in significant improvements in living standards. However, our resources were limited and the State institutions were still being built.
I took part in drawing up the Constitution. I learned to manage opposing positions and seek consensus. For this reason I am naturally committed to defending the Constitution in full. Defense of our Constitution will be guaranteed with me as Head of State. As a consequence, there will not be any institutional conflicts capable of provoking new crises. I, “Lu-Olo”, will not be a President who leads the opposition, I will not create opposition to the Government or the Parliament. I will not demand the revision of the Constitution or of the recommended political system because I believe it is the system best suited to our social and political reality. I will support institutional solidarity and respect the powers of each sovereign body. All of my actions will be based on the Constitution of the Republic and the nation’s laws.
I will consciously assume the role of Head of State as a citizen among citizens who wishes to strengthen the democratic state under the rule of law, where citizens fully participate in the social, political and economic development process. I will use the influence of my authority to inspire an inclusive dynamic in the development process.
I will be President of all and for all. I will use my knowledge of the Constitution and laws to defend a peaceful and stable institutional life and culture, advancing towards an inclusive sustainable and balanced development, which will strengthen our democratic state under the rule of law.
Why me, Francisco Guterres “Lu-Olo” ?
I present my candidacy to ensure greater respect for the Constitution and our laws. I carry the experience of being the President of the Constituent Assembly which adopted the Constitution, followed by the President of the first Parliament which adopted the basic laws structuring the Timorese State. I also bring with me the painful but dignifying experience of 24 years of armed struggle.
In theoretical studies, I found the scientific explanation for all my life experiences and learned through practice over the decades. The years of higher education gave me a Law Degree from the Timor Lorosa’e National University in which I built on my legal knowledge and experience. I learned to embrace even more the legal foundation of our acts and the principles of fairness, equality and justice for all.
The President of the Republic, as Head of State, plays an important role in our Republic’s Constitution and the exercise of democratic power in our system. The Head of State must be knowledgeable of these competencies so as to prevent the emergence of internal crises and guide the nation to actively participate in resolving regional or international problems.
Only a Head of State who is knowledgeable of these competencies as defined in the Constitution and who possesses intrinsic qualities - simplicity, modesty, good moral, intellectual and technical training – can exercise power in moderation but also with firmness. The Constitution reserves many functions for the
Head of State. Among these are:
1. The President of the Republic must guarantee the unity of the nation and the state, territorial integrity and national independence and sovereignty. Our struggle of more than two decades resulted in the restoration of independence. The Constitution of the Republic, our basic law, states in the first article, point one, that “The Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste is a democratic, sovereign, independent and unitary State under the rule of law, the will of the people and the respect for the dignity of the human person.” Point one of the second article makes clear that “Sovereignty rests with the people, who shall exercise it in the manner and form laid down in the Constitution.” Further on, our Constitution assigns to the President of the Republic the task of uniting all the people around him without any discrimination based on political party affiliation, socio-economic status, religion, ethnicity or race. The President must guarantee the unity of the State and the unitary nature of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste.
In the cultural arena, the Head of State must instill a progressive development in the sense of strengthening our people’s identity, offering them a dynamic vision which allows Timorese socio-cultural reality, rooted in thousands of years of history, to constantly interact and co-exist with the modern, globalized world.
2. The President represents the country internally and externally. Through education and guidance from this highest office, the Head of State should address the hopes of all our people, as well as the community of nations, for lasting peace and stability. A Head of State who is modest and well prepared academically and politically will better know how to listen to society, families, and various institutions, be they public, private, social or religious. I will work to persuade people and build understanding, whenever required. The Head of State must always know how to be inclusive and find solid understanding of fundamental issues facing the country. He should also convey an attitude of moral and political integrity, to represent the country with dignity at home and internationally in order to gain the respect of all and increase the international credibility of Timor-Leste and its people.
3. The President of the Republic is the guardian of the Constitution. The President swears the oath of office before the Constitution that is in force. Therefore the President’s first task is to ensure compliance with the Constitution and laws as well as the international treaties we ratified and adopted into our national law. The role as guardian of the Constitution and laws is exercised in the promulgation of national or decree laws from the National Parliament or Government and when ensuring the legality of political appointments such as the Supreme Court President or Prosecutor General.
The exercise of a VETO against National Parliament or Government legislative acts, nominating members to sovereign bodies or other State institutions, as well as the dissolution of National Parliament in case of serious institutional crisis, are all part of the President of the Republic’s competencies in full exercise of the powers as Head of State.
For me, “Lu-Olo”, the power of VETO must be used whenever and only if the law is unconstitutional or if it puts the public interest at stake, particularly regarding national peace and stability. In this way the veto can be used politically and legally. It is important to guarantee the normal functioning of the Government and other State institutions. The veto power should not be used to oppose the Government or impede the Government from governing, nor should the veto be avoided due to complicity with the Government or to facilitate the Government. The veto power must be used prudently, taking into account the common good, public interest, constitutionality, citizens’ rights and freedoms, and universal values enshrined in our Constitution.
4. I am fully aware that the Head of State has the power to dissolve National Parliament as a political power in reserve. I see this power as one to regulate and control the political process, but not a discretionary power. Wherever a parliamentary majority causes the dismissal of Government through a censure vote or if Parliament rejects the State General Budget twice consecutively within a 60-day period, the President of the Republic must immediately dismiss the Government and wait for a new parliamentary alliance representing the majority to form a new government. If these efforts are not successful, the Head of State must dissolve National Parliament and call for early elections within a period of 90 days. The same occurs if National Parliament rejects the Government’s program twice consecutively within a 60-day period. Dissolution terminates the National Parliament’s mandate and returns the decision to the voters in new parliamentary elections. Thus in Timor-Leste, the President of the Republic can only exercise the power of dissolution after verifying the following:
i. The existence of a serious institutional crisis;
ii. The practical impossibility of ensuring the smooth functioning of democratic institutions by means other than dissolution;
iii. Prior consultation with the Council of State and the political parties sitting in the National Parliament.
5. As the candidate, I know that the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste reserves powers to the Head of State in relation to matters of foreign policy. Amongst them are the following:
i. Appoint and dismiss ambassadors based on the government’s proposal;
ii. Accept the credentials of foreign diplomats;
iii. Represent the country at the highest level internationally;
iv. Guide, together with the Government, the negotiation of international treaties or bilateral agreements in the areas of defence and security.
6. I will always respect the sacred principle of international cooperation and solidarity in the exercise of the powers of the President. Cooperation with other organs of sovereignty is of extreme importance, in particular the Government and the National Parliament. For this, the Prime Minister has the duty to regularly and completely inform the President of the Republic regarding all national political matters at both domestic and international levels. As far as the National Parliament is concerned, the President of the Republic must inform it and seek its authorization before making state or official visits to foreign countries. The President may also ask to address extraordinary plenary sittings of the National Parliament as a means of addressing the nation.
7. The President of the Republic is also the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. I will exercise my functions in clear conscience that it is the responsibility of the Government to initiate legislation and define policies that seek to create, capacitate and develop the Defense Forces. The role of Head of State is to cooperate with the Government and to permanently instill a dynamic of seeking solutions capable of making the Armed Forces an institution ready to defend democratic values, the constitutionality of the acts of state bodies, national sovereignty and independence. As a guarantor of the respect for the Constitution and the laws, the Head of State should equally guarantee that the Defense and Security Forces are professional and ready to always be on the constitutional side of public and private acts. For this the President should remain attentive to the development of the F-FDTL and the PNTL as well as the State’s intelligence and counter-intelligence services.
A. Once elected, I will place myself above all party-political disputes and will be a President of all and for all, as is the appropriate role of the Head of State, and as I intend to do.
B. As President of the Republic, I will be a Head of State loyal to the Constitution and applicable laws of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste. I will exercise my powers with institutional autonomy and will always respect the powers of the other sovereign organs.
C. In the sphere of foreign relations, I will take a position of constructive engagement based on the principle that everyone is a friend and there are zero enemies. Timor-Leste must know how to become a bridge between the Pacific and Asia, while opening avenues to project itself into Africa, Europe and the Americas through the Community of Portuguese Speaking Countries – CPLP.
D. As President of the Republic, I will respect the absolute independence of the Courts. To strengthen justice, I will use the influence of my authority to create the means for justice institutions to carry out their obligations to swiftly administer justice.
E. As President of the Republic, I will seek to find all possible consensus and mutual understanding in society, taking on the role of moderator and referee within our system.
F. In the exercise of my role, I will stimulate consultation as the basis of achieving understanding and, in a discreet way and always with a view to avoiding political conflict, place myself in the position of being consulted, of consulting and to counsel, whenever needed.
G. During my term as President, I will do everything to strengthen the sense of national identity. I will devote myself to guiding the whole of society towards the great national objectives, through strengthening the cooperation among all sovereign bodies.
H. As President, I will do all I can to remind our society of the fundamental task of nation building. I will be the necessary and indispensable bridge between past and future legislatures, always with the view to embracing the principle of the continuity and perpetuity of our state. I will call all political parties’ attention to the communion of democracy in the search for structural solutions to national problems in a democratic state under the rule of law.
I. I will always exercise solidarity as the Head of State. I will use the influence of my authority to engage in the issues affecting National Liberation Combatants and Veterans of the Struggle, with the greatest respect and utmost sense of responsibility. I will do all in my power to find solutions that dignify the beneficiaries.
J. The issue of the elderly and other needy sectors of our community, the widows and orphans of our Struggle for National Liberation will deserve my full attention. I will make public in due course, clear proposals for a dignified solution to all these issues without discrimination against any one group, but always with the objective of bringing those on the periphery of our society into the mainstream and freeing them from all forms of dependency.
K. As Head of State I will be attentive to issues affecting the natural environment and the environmental sustainability of our development. As President of the Republic, I will do all I can to contribute to boosting the economic, social, cultural and intellectual life of the nation. As a man of the people of humble existence, I will always be sensitive to social problems where a large proportion of our people live in extreme poverty. As Head of State, with the cooperation of the Government and other public and private institutions, I will do all I can so that the social benefits of the state are inclusive and reach all those in need. I will maintain active interest in the public policies of education and professional training, health, the creation of employment, the fight against poverty, housing, basic sanitation, clean water and electricity for all, in summary, for social and economic inclusion.
L. The issues of youth and gender equity will equally deserve my attention. As Head of State, I will dedicate my whole attention to questions concerning young people and equality between men and women. I will maintain regular dialogue with civil and traditional society, with youth and women’s groups, with religious faiths and human rights and advocacy groups so as to include everyone in the search for just and equitable solutions to these problems that still plague our society.
M. I will defend the constitutional right of religious freedom and be the guarantor of the implementation of this principle in its fullness.
N. The issue of domestic violence and sexual abuse, in particular the sexual abuse of minors deserves the attention of our whole society. As President of the Republic, I will engage in continuous dialogue with the whole of society and public and private, religious and traditional institutions, in order to mobilize everyone around the common task of eradicating these evils from our country.
O. Maternal and infant health – specifically the reduction of maternal and infant mortality rates – is an urgent imperative, as is the special development and care of children to school age. As the President of the Republic, I will contribute to defining of policies and approving programs that bind all society to respect the rights of Timorese mothers and children. The state must guarantee the right of balanced nutrition until five years of age. The whole of society should contribute to the healthy upbringing of our children. I will be intransigent on this in the material interest of the whole nation and the future of our people.
P. The issue of endemic, contagious and infectious diseases deserves my particular attention. My involvement will be in the sense of demanding that the institutions of our state with powers and responsibilities in these areas and the whole of society join forces in the fight against and prevention of tuberculosis, malaria, dengue fever and especially HIV and AIDS.
Q. Timor-Leste can and should be an example in the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). As Head of State I will closely follow the programs of the Government and will intervene whenever necessary, at a high level and internationally, so as to strengthen the government’s means to achieving the MDGs.
R. As President of the Republic, I will always be a factor in ensuring political stability, peace and development. In cooperation with the Government, I will do all I can to help ensure that our country develops in a sustainable way, eradicating poverty, eliminating the gap between the rural areas and the city, bridging the widening wealth gap, creating equal opportunities for all with greater social and economic inclusion, improving capacity and strengthening institutions so they function normally and strictly respect the Constitution and laws of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste.
(This is a translation from the original Portuguese document. Whilst all care has been taken and its accuracy has been checked, the Portuguese version remains the official version for official purposes.)