Saturday, 19 May 2012

Roles of the President and the Prime Minister in the Current Constitutional Crisis in East Timor

2006 ETLJ 6 Roles of the President and the Prime Minister in the Current Constitutional Crisis in East Timor

On Tuesday 20 June 2006 the President of the Democratic Republic of East Timor, Xanana Gusmão, wrote to the Prime Minister, Mari Alkatiri, a most remarkable letter, accompanied by a video cassette of an Australian television report. The following is a translation from the original published in the Portuguese press[1]:

Your Excellency
Prime Minister
Dr Mari Alkatiri

Re: Attached copy of Four Corners documentary

There having been transmitted on the ABC Four Corners program last night at 7:30 pm and, allegations of the same tenor having been transmitted also on the RTTL[2] , at 7:00 pm, as well as, in recent days, by various national and international communications media, grave accusations of your involvement in the distribution of weapons to civilians, I am sending you the video for your consideration.

Having seen the Four Corners program, which shocked me immensely, all that I can now do is to give you the opportunity to decide: either you resign or, having consulted the Council of State, I will dismiss you, because you have ceased to merit my confidence as President of the Republic.

I await your letter of reply by 5 pm today, 20 June 2006.

Yours sincerely,

Palácio das Cinzas, 20 June 2006.
President of the Republic
Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão

The Constitution of the Democratic Republic of East Timor sets out the respective roles of the President and the Prime Minister in quite clear terms.

The President is elected by direct universal suffrage using the European system of run-off elections if no candidate receives an absolute majority (art 76, Constitution).

The Prime Minister is selected by the party or coalition having a majority in Parliament and is then appointed by the President (art 106.1 Constitution).

Article 112 of the Constitution, dealing with the dismissal of the government, states as follows:

The immediately obvious interpretation of the words following the conjunction "and" in the second paragraph is that each of the six grounds for dismissal is qualified by a formal requirement of apparent necessity. A different result would obtain if the word "and" were replaced by "or". In that case, there would be a 7th distinct ground of dismissal, effectively a wide-ranging discretion vested in the President to dismiss the government whenever he/she thought the normal functioning of democracy required it, subject to his/her hearing the views of the Council of State.

Only by a very stretched and, it is submitted, unsustainable view could it be said that the 7th ground is available without changing the actual text.

The President's threat to dismiss the Prime Minister, however, appears to rely on the "7th ground" interpretation, hence the reference to consultation with the Council of State. Even if that interpretation were correct, however, it would have to be said that the blunt terms of the President's language seem to leave no real role for the Council of State. A Constitutional imperative that the President consult with the Council should imply that he should at least have an open mind before hearing what the Council has to say.

In short, the President's threat to dismiss the Prime Minister was undoubtedly unconstitutional.

The rapid succession of events in the days following the delivery of the letter suggest that Gusmão's advisers may have confirmed the unconstitutionality of the threat. Certainly, Alkatiri's failure to resign by the deadline resulted not in a purported dismissal by the President but instead led to the President's ultimatum in a public statement on 22 June that, if the Prime Minister did not resign by the next day, then he would do so.

In the same statement, Gusmão referred to the Congress of the Fretilin party which had taken place in May, during which Alkatiri was re-elected Secretary-General by a "show of hands" vote of over 97%. The President described this as unlawful, pointing out that Article 18(c) of the Political Parties Law requires all office-bearers to be elected by direct and secret ballot.

This time the President appears to have been on firmer ground, but what did it mean for the status of the Prime Minister? There is no reason to suppose that the requirements of 18(c) apply to the majority party's selection of the Prime Minister under Article 106 of the Constitution, and in any event the Political Parties Law only came into effect in 2004, by which time Alkatiri had been in the job for over two years. But would it be relevant to the unfolding crisis?

The President's new threat to himself resign if Alkatiri did not was a bold gamble. Again the Constitution seemed to work against his intentions, since it contemplated in Article 82.1 that on his resignation the post of President of the Republic would be filled automatically by the Speaker of the Parliament, in the person of Francisco Guterres "Lu-Olo", a staunch supporter of Alkatiri within Fretilin. Moreover, following his resignation Gusmão would be prevented from standing at the next Presidential elections or indeed at any such election in the following five years (art 81.3).

The response of the Prime Minister has been to rely on the right of the majority party to nominate the person who fills his position, and therefore to refuse to resign until Fretilin's Political Committee authorises him to do so. But what then of the Political Parties Law? If the party elections in May were unlawful, who now has the legitimacy to decide the Prime Minister's fate within the party?

As this article is concluded the battle lines in Dili remain drawn up, without (metaphorically or, thankfully, literally) any shots being fired. It is obvious that the final results will not be written up by jurists, except to the extent that the "doctine of effectiveness" will ultimate prevail and a new volume of the law of East Timor will have to be opened. Will this mean a Second Republic? If so, one can only hope it will serve the people of East Timor well.

____________________
1. The author is responsible for all translations from the Portuguese.
2. The East Timorese public broadcasting network.
3. The Council of State is made up of: all former Presidents who have not been dismissed from office; the Speaker of the Parliament; the Prime Minister; five citizens elected by the Parliament; five citizens appointed by the President (art 90 Constitution).

MICHAEL JONES BA(Hons) Dip Law
SOLICITOR
SYDNEY 25 JUNE 2006

END OF ARTICLE

INDONESIAN TRANSLATION FOLLOWS

Peran Presiden dan Perdana Menteri dalam Krisis Konstitusional di Timor-Leste

Pada hari Selasa, 20 Juni 2006 Presiden Republik Demokratik Timor-Leste Xanana Gusmão mengirimkan kepada Perdana Menteri, Mari Alkatiri, sepucuk surat yang sangat luar biasa, disertai dengan satu kaset video dari satu laporan televisi Australia. Berikut ini adalah terjemahan dari aslinya yang diterbitkan pers Portugis.[1]

Yang Mulia
Perdana Menteri
Dr. Mari Alkatiri

Perihal: Terlampir copy dari dokumenter Four Corners

Setelah tadi malam pukul 7.0 disiarkan pada program Four Corners ABC dan, tuduhan dengan nada yang sama juga telah disiarkan pada RTTL,[2] pada pukul 7 malam, serta, dalam hari-hari belakangan ini, oleh berbagai media komunikasi nasional dan internasional, tuduhan berat tentang keterlibatan anda dalam pembagian senjata api kepada orang sipil, saya mengirimkan kepada anda video untuk anda pertimbangkan.

Setelah menyaksikan acara Four Corners, yang membuat saya sangat terkejut, yang bisa saya lakukan sekarang adalah memberi kesempatan untuk memutuskan: anda mundur atau, setelah berkonsultasi dengan Dewan Negara, saya akan memecat anda, karena anda telah kehilangan kepercayaan saya sebagai Presiden Republik.

Saya menunggu surat balasan anda sampai pukul 5 sore hari ini, 20 Juni 2006.

Hormat saya,

Palácio das Cinzas, 20 Juni 2006
Presiden Republik
Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão

Konstitusi Republik Demokratik Timor Leste menetapkan secara jelas peran-peran berikut ini untuk Presiden dan Perdana Menteri.

Presiden dipilih dengan pemilihan umum langsung, dengan menggunakan pemilihan lanjutan sistem Eropa jika tidak ada calon yang mendapatkan mayoritas absolut (pasal 76 Konstitusi).

Perdana Menteri ditunjuk oleh partai atau koalisi yang memiliki mayoritas dalam Parlemen dan kemudian diangkat oleh Presiden (pasal 106.1 Konstitusi).

Pasal 112 Konstitusi, mengenai pemecatan pemerintah, menyatakan sebagai berikut:

1. Pemerintah diberhentikan dalam keadaan sebagai berikut:
a) Masa legislatif baru dimulai;
b) Penerimaan oleh Presiden Republik pengunduran diri Perdana Menteri;
c) Kematian atau ketidakmampuan fisik yang tetap Perdana Menteri;
d) Program pemerintah ditolak untuk kedua kalinya secara berturut-turut;
e) Pemungutan suara kepercayaan tidak lolos;
f) Pemungutan suara penolakan lolos dengan mayoritas absolut para
Utusan yang menjalankan fungsi penuh mereka;

2. Presiden Republik hanya bisa memecat Perdana Menteri sesuai dengan kasus-kasus yang diberikan untuk butir sebelumnya dan ketika dianggap perlu untuk menjamin berfungsinya secara teratur lembaga-lembaga demokratis, setelah bermusyawarah dengan Dewan Negara.[3]

Penafsiran yang segera dari kata-kata setelah kata hubung "dan" pada ayat kedua tersebut ialah bahwa masing-masing dari enam sebab pemecatan dikualifikasi oleh satu persyaratan formal keperluan yang nyata. Satu hasil yang berbeda akan dicapai jika kata "dan" digantikan oleh "atau". Dalam kasus ini, ada sebab ketujuh untuk pemecatan, yang secara efektif merupakan hak mutlak luas yang ada pada Presiden untuk memecat pemerintah kapan saja ia anggap diperlukan oleh berfungsinya demokrasi secara normal, yang menjadi masalah yang dikonsultasikannya dengan Dewan Negara.

Akan tetapi, hanya dengan sangat longgar dan, merupakan pandangan yang tak bisa dipertahankan bila dikatakan bahwa sebab ke-7 itu ada dalam Konstitusi tanpa mengubah teksnya yang sekarang.

Namun demikian, ancaman Presiden untuk memecat Perdana Menteri agaknya bertumpu pada panafsiran "sebab ke-7", yang karena itu surat tersebut menyebutkan konsultasi dengan Dewan Negara. Tetapi kalaupun penafsiran itu benar, harus dikatakan bahwa kata-kata yang tajam surat Presiden tidak memberikan peran nyata untuk Dewan Negara. Kewajiban Konstitusional bahwa Presiden berkonsultasi dengan Dewan Negara berimplikasi bahwa ia harus berpikir terbuka sebelum mendengarkan apa yang harus dikatakan oleh Dewan Negara.

Ringkasnya, ancaman Presiden untuk memecat Perdana Menteri jelas tidak konstitusional.

Berjalan cepatnya peristiwa-peristiwa dalam hari-hari setelah penyampaian surat tersebut menunjukkan bahwa para penasehat Presiden Gusmão kemungkinan telah menegaskan tidak konstitusionalnya ancaman tersebut. Pasti, tidak mundurnya Alkatiri pada batas waktu yang ditetapkan tidak menghasilkan pemecatan oleh Presiden tetapi sebaliknya membuat Presiden mengeluarkan ultimatum dalam pernyataan publik pada tanggal 22 Juni bahwa kalau Perdana Menteri tidak mundur hari berikutnya ia yang akan mundur.

Dalam pernyataannya itu, Presiden Gusmão menyebut Kongres partai Fretilin yang berlangsung bulan Mei, yang di dalamnya Alkatiri terpilih kembali sebagai Sekretaris Jenderal dengan melalui pemungutan suara "angkat tangan" lebih dari 97% suara. Presiden menyebut ini melanggar hukum, dengan menunjuk Pasal 18 (c) Undang-Undang Partai Poltik [http://www.eastimorlawjournal.org/LAWSINDEPENDENCE/30r2004polparts.html] mensyaratkan semua pemangku jabatan dipilih melalui pemungutan suara langsung dan rahasia.

Kali ini Presiden tampaknya punya dasar yang kuat, tetapi apa artinya ini bagi status Perdana Menteri? Berdasarkan Pasal 106 Konstitusi, tidak ada alasan untuk beranggapan bahwa syarat-syarat pasal 18 (c) berlaku untuk seleksi Perdana Menteri oleh partai mayoritas, dan Undang-Undang Partai Politik baru berlaku pada tahun 2004, yang pada waktu itu Alkatiri telah mejalankan tugas sebagai Perdana Menteri selama dua tahun. Tetapi apakah ini relevan untuk krisis sekarang ini?

Ancaman baru Presiden untuk mundur kalau Alkatiri tidak mundur adalah judi yang berani. Sekali lagi Konstitusi bertentangan dengan tujuan Presiden, karena dalam Pasal 82.1 disebutkan bahwa kalau ia mundur maka jabatan Presiden Republik akan secara otomatis diisi oleh Ketua Parlemen, yang sekarang adalah Francisco Guterres "Lo-Olo", seorang pendukung keras Alkatiri dalam Fretilin. Lebih lagi, setelah mengundurkan diri Gusmão dalam waktu lima tahun selanjutnya tidak bisa mencalonkan diri dalam pemilihan Presiden (pasal 81.3).

Tanggapan Perdana Menteri adalah mendasarkan pada hak partai mayoritas untuk mencalonkan orang yang mengisi posisinya, dan karena itu menolak mundur sebelum Komite Politik Fretilin mengesahkan tindakan itu. Tetapi bagaimana dengan Undang-Undang Partai Politik? Kalau pemilihan Partai itu pada bulan Maret bertentangan dengan hukum, siapa yang sekarang punya legitimasi untuk memutuskan nasib Perdana Menteri di dalam partai itu?

Ketika tulisan ini diselesaikan, garis pertarungan di Dili masih ditarik, (secara metaforis atau untungnya, secara harafiah) tanpa ada tembakan dilepaskan. Jelas bahwa hasil akhirnya tidak ditentukan oleh para ahli hukum, kecuali dalam hal bahwa "doktrin efektivitas" akhirnya menang dan satu jilid baru hukum Timor-Leste harus dibuka. Apakah ini berarti suatu Republik Kedua? Kalau ya, kita hanya bisa berharap bahwa ini akan melayani dengan baik rakyat Timor-Leste.

Michael Jones, BA (Hons) Dip Law
Advokat
Sydney 25 Juni 2006

[1] Terjemahan dari Portugis ke Inggris dilakukan oleh penulis.
Terjemahan ke dalam bahasa Indonesia oleh penerjemah.
[2] Badan penyiaran publik Timor-Leste.
[3] Dewan Negara terdiri dari: semua mantan Presiden yang tidak
dipecat dari jabatannya; Ketua Parlemen; Perdana Menteri; lima orang
warganegara yang dipilih oleh Parlemen; lima orang warganegara yang
diangkat oleh Presiden (pasal 90 Konstitusi).

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Index

2011

1. The Rule of Law: Theoretical, Cultural and Legal Challenges for Timor-Leste

2010


2009


2008


1. Justice for Serious Crimes Committed during 1999 in Timor-Leste: Where to From Here?

2. Joint Command for PNTL & F-FDTL Undermines Rule of Law & Security Sector Reform in Timor-Leste

3. Criminal Justice in East Timor and the Constitution of East Timor

4. Commentary on the Draft Arms Law in Timor-Leste

5. Deleted

2007

1. The Law on Political Parties (No 3/2004) & the Decision of the Timor-Leste Court of Appeal in the case of Vitor da Costa & Ors v Fretilin

2. Ethnicity, Violence & Land & Property Disputes in Timor-Leste

3. East Timor: Reconciliation & Reconstruction

4. Legal opinion on the appointment of the Prime Minister and the formation of Government in Timor-Leste

5. A legal opinion on the Formation of an Unconstitutional Government in Timor-Leste

6. Commission for Truth Friendship East Timor Competing Concepts of Justice

7. 25th of May 2006 Massacre & War Crimes in Timor-Leste

2006

1. Some Land Tenure Issues in Post-Conflict East Timor

2. Extradition from Indonesia to East Timor & the Serious Crimes Process in East Timor 1999 - 2005

3. East Timor: Internal Security, States of Seige & Emergency: A Note on the Constitutional Provisions & the Internal Security Law 2003

4. East Timor: The Constitutional Process Governing the Dismissal of the Government

5. Guidelines for Preparation of Outgoing Requests by East Timor for International Judicial Assisstance - Extradition Requests & Letters Rogatory - A Practice Manual

6. Roles of the President and the Prime Minister in the Current Constitutional Crisis in East Timor

7. Institutions & the East Timorese Experience

8. An Early Warning System for Timor-Leste: A Framework Concept of the Need & Possibility of an Early Warning System for the Timorese People

2005

1. The Timor-Leste Maritime Boundaries Case

2. Deleted

3. On the occasion of the International Conference on Traditional Dispute Resolution & Traditional Justice in Timor-Leste

4. General Facts on the Timor Sea & Facts on the Negotiations on a Permanent Maritime Boundary between Timor-Leste & Australia

5. Deleted

6. Morality, Religion & the Law: Abortion & Prosititution in East Timor

2004

1. A Note on Land Rights in East Timor (Indonesian Government Regulation No 18 of 1991 on the Conversion of Land Rights in East Timor) & the Purported Suspension of Article 5 by Government Regulation No 24 of 1992

2. UNTAET Land Policy


3. Some Observations on UNTAET Regulation No 27/2000 on the Temporary Prohibition on Transactions in Land by Indonesian Citizens

4. Sandalwood & Environmental Law in East Timor

5. Some Observations on the Report on Research Findings & Policy Recommendations for a Legal Framework for Land Dispute Mediation in East Timor

6. An Overview of East Timor's Law No 1 of 2003 on the Juridical Regime on Immovable Properties

7. Report on Research into Adat Land Law in East Timor

8. Short Analysis of UNTAET Executive Order No 2 of 2002 on the Decriminalisation of Defamation

9. An Overview of the Constitutional Drafting Process in East Timor

10. Some Notes on East Timor Government Decree No 1/2004 on the Orthographical Standard of the Tetum Language

11. UNTAET Guidelines for the Administration of Public & Abandoned Property by District Administrations

12. Tara Bandu: The Adat Concept of the Environment in East Timor

13. Finding Ways of Resolving Land Problems in East Timor