Timor-Leste’s problems run deeper than a hung parliament, and they begin with Australia
With a new energy deal with Australia on the table, and with an end to a year of political gridlock in sight, the future should be bright for Timor-Leste. But will it fall pray to the same pattern of corruption that led it here?
In January, after half a year of political gridlock, Timor-Leste’s president Francisco “Lu Olo” Guterres set the date for its 730,000 registered voters to head to the polls. This would be the second time they have since last July’s election, which saw a standoff between the minority government of popular freedom fighters turned political party Fretilin, headed by the country’s original post-independence Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, and the National Congress for Timorese Reconstruction (CNRT), led by charismatic revolutionary Xanana Gusmao.
Fretlin received just 0.2% more votes than CNRT to claim victory in last year’s election, but fell short of a the required seats to govern. CNRT, which had previously formed a de facto coalition with Fretilin, refused to reform government, leading to the impasse.