State and politics
Ant車nio Salazar became Portuguese dictator in 1928.
During Salazar's so-called Estado Novo ("The New
State"), colonial legislation distinguished between
indigenous, indigenous, and non-indigenous, não
indigenous, where there were special rules for how the
natives could achieve the status of assimilated, i.e. no
longer "native". See ABBREVIATIONFINDER for how TP can stand for East Timor.
Only those who were classified as non-native could become
Portuguese citizens and thus move freely in the territory,
release certain tax burdens and obtain voting rights. The
only allowed party was the state- carrying União
Nacional. Under this system, a resident against
Portugal was created loyal elite, who exercised a strong
control over their subordinates. The security police, PIDE,
also acted as an important element of the control.
The period of political activity that began in April 1974
ended with the invasion of Indonesia on December 7, 1975.
The administrative system of thirteen districts created
during the Portuguese period was taken over and reinforced
by Indonesia with military presence at all levels.
Following Indonesia's 1999 decision to allow East Timor's
people to determine their political status themselves, the
UN established an organization, UNAMET, with the task of
overseeing a referendum. After UNAMET was forced to leave
East Timor during the unrest following the vote, the UN
appointed a military force, INTERFET, and a new
administrative organization, UNTAET, to ensure calm and
arrange elections for a legislative assembly and
According to the constitution established since 2002, the
executive political power is shared between the president
and the prime minister and parliament on the one hand, with
the emphasis placed on the latter. The constitution is
largely based on the Mozambique and Portugal constitutions.
Parliament has an executive and legislative power. The
president is not part of the government and has limited
powers, apart from the role of commander-in-chief and the
possibility of vetoing certain legislative proposals.
However, such a veto can, in turn, be annulled by an
absolute majority within Parliament.
On a number of points, East Timor's constitution is
linked to the UN Declaration on Human Rights, not least with
regard to women's rights. The latter is a result of the
political struggle that the country's women have waged in
parallel with the struggle for national independence.
Portuguese and Tetun, the largest local language, are,
according to the constitution, official languages, while
Indonesian (Bahasa) and English were defined as working
The Fretilin Party (Frente Revolucionaria de
Timor Leste Independente, 'East Timor's Revolutionary
Liberation Front') received 55 seats out of a total of 88 in
the legislative assembly in August 2001. According to the
Constitution established in May 2002, the executive
political power is shared between the president and on the
other hand, the Prime Minister and Parliament, with the
emphasis placed on the latter.
In April 2002, Xanana Gusmão was elected East Timor's
first president. Fretilin's Mari Alkatiri (born 1949) became
The presidential and parliamentary elections in 2007 were
both marked by the 2006 crisis and by contradictions between
the Fretilin government party and other parties, notably
Conselho Nacional da Resistencia Timorense, CNRT
(Timor's National Resistance Council). Politically unbounded
Jos谷 Ramos-Horta took the post, while Xanana Gusmão became
prime minister as leader of a coalition of three opposition
Ramos-Horta announced presidential elections until March
2012 and himself ran for re-election. However, he lost
already in the first round of elections. In the second
round, the former guerrilla leader and defense chief Taur
Matan Ruak (born 1956) won.
The July parliamentary elections in the same year
resulted in a meager win for CNRT, whose leader Xanana
Gusmão became prime minister. To counter political divide
and create stability in the country, in February 2015, CNRT
and Fretilin formed a coalition and Gusmão handed over the
Prime Minister's post to Fretilins Rui de Ara迆jo (born
In the March 2017 presidential election, former guerrilla
soldier Fretilin's party leader Francisco Guterres was
backed not only by his own party but also by the party CNRT.
Guterres got 57 percent of the vote in the first round. He
thus obtained the majority required to win and took office
on May 20.
The presidential election was the first to be held in the
country without the support of UN peacekeeping forces who
left the country in 2012.
However, the parliamentary elections in July 2017 did not
produce a clear result. After lengthy negotiations, Fretilin
succeeded in forming a minority government together with two
smaller parties. The Prime Minister became Mari Alkatiri for
the second time. CNRT formed an opposition alliance with the
third largest party, Partidu Libertasaun Popular,
PLP (People's Freedom Party), led by former President Taur
Matan Ruak, as well as Xanana Gusmão's arms carrier during
the liberation struggle against the Indonesian occupation.
A comprehensive reform of the judiciary began in East
Timor in 2002 in connection with the country's independence.
The process takes place with the support of the UN. review
of the legislation, construction of a new court system and
training of domestic lawyers. The judiciary has three
levels: local courts, three district courts and an appellate
The new constitution from 2002 contains a ban on the
death penalty, but the death penalty was abolished as early
as 1999. In connection with the country's independence, a
special so-called reconciliation commission was formed,
whose task was to gather testimony on various disputes. The
Commission then organized local conflict resolution
processes tailored to the country's legal culture. Once it
has been agreed on how to resolve a local conflict, the
matter is forwarded to a district court to ratify the
agreement. This procedure hopes to reduce the different
kinds of contradictions that exist. The Commission submitted
its final report in 2008 with the aim of gradually
transferring the conflict resolution to the new judicial