Maternus Bere and the National Interest*

By Antonio Ramos Naikoli*
Dili - Maternus Bere (MB) was captured by authorities and condemned by the Suai District Court, accusing MB to be one of the perpetrators of the massacre unleashed by pro-Indonesia militias on 6 September 1999, Suai Church. That massacre victims were civilians and many religious. The court verdict was the middle of August, which MB awarded him penalty because the acts committed in the past. According to UNTAET Regulation No .15/2000, which is the panel of serious crimes with powers to prosecute for serious crimes, crimes against humanity,crimes against genocide, among others. In light of UNTAET Regulation No.15/2000, the only Court that has jurisdiction over serious crimes, is the Dili District Court. It means that the Suai District Court violated the regulation in force and for that reason, Council of Judiciary (CSMJ) might open an investigation to the Judge of the process.

Reaction in Indonesia and 10 years after the Popular Consultation

The reaction in Indonesia was not long, because the diplomacy of Jakarta came to evoke the principles and recommendations of the Commission of Truth and Friendship between Timor-Leste and Indonesia. This year, 2009, East Timor celebrated the historic day that all EastTimorese men and women, old and young, in villages and mountains, in the country and in the diaspora, with their determination to put an end to anillegal 24-year occupation and began a new process, the construction of the Nation State. In the celebrations of the 10th anniversary, the festival organizing committee decided to invite all those involved in the process, as the former Indonesian and Portuguese governments, such as the United Nations and international solidarity. Among them the former Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Portugal, António Guterres and Jaime Gama, the leader of UNAMET, the UN mission that organized the referendum, Ian Martin, etc.. The list of participants is not complete without the presence of the leader of Indonesia and the actors involved in the process as the former President of the Republic, Prof. B. J. Habibie, former Foreign Minister Ali Alatas (deceased) and the current rulers.

Indonesia accepted the invitation to participate in the ceremony on one condition - the release or delivery of Maternus Bere to Indonesia in order to serve their sentences in Indonesian territory. This therefore called into question the court's decision on the one hand, and the national interest of Timor-Leste on the other.

The national interest: What is the national interest of East Timor?

The national interest consists of the following items: interest in the development / progress / stability / security, political interest, interesting respect of conducting a policy of good neighbourly relations with its nearest neighbours. In this case, would the MB case reflect the national interest or is it purely legalistic? A statement from the CNRT parliamentary party in response to the motion of censure, referred to the national interest as follows: "national stability or not depends on the good conduct of policy reconciliation, good neighbourliness and international relations (Decl. 22/09 / 2009). The national interest is what reflects the interest of an entire country. The National reconciliation was, is, and will be the national interest, according to Article 162 of the RDTL Constitution, giving priority to the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation (CAVR), and subsequently the creation of the Commission for Truth and Friendship (CTF). Thus, we cannot deduce the MB case as a case analysis of purely legal framework, but also must consider the implications of the case in cultural issues. What is at issue, not the MB, but above all put the interests of a country. National reconciliation and the Commission of Truth and Friendship between Timor-Leste and Indonesia. Based on the imperative of national interests, the State of Timor-Leste faced with this decision predicament. Sacrificing a person the benefit of many people / or national interest to confront our neighbours? We are an independent and sovereign country but within the experience as a country we need the interdependence between the countries with the international community, with the regional community and the nearest neighbours. The inter-dependence between Timor-Leste and Indonesia is reflected in the daily lives of our people. Importantly, the declaration CNRT parliamentary party, "Let the people, the environment of tranquility and serenity, peace and stability. Even if it is stable, which some say is bought or forced. To us it does not matter, we sustain the environment, for it has already been more than 30 years that our people have dreamed, hoped, this quiet and nobody cared about the restoration of this environment. "

Of the actors involved:

All players in the Timorese state were involved in the process of liberation- from the President of the Court of Appeal, Attorney General's Office, Government - and was still consulting the opposition leader. As established by the President in an interview with TVTL, (edited 21/09/2009), "met with Dr. Mari Alkatiri and the Prime Minister, according to my will to discuss the matter with the leaders national, seek solution to this problem. "(ibid.). It surprised me that the position of Dr. Mari Alkatiri, demonstrating their moderation, do not reflect the position of his parliamentary party," said Ramos Horta. In the absence of the President of the Court of Appeal, thePresident, Natercia, was consulted and was aware of the Maternus Bere case, at least on the same day (August 30). The Bere case, delayed the opening ceremony, nearly thirty-something minutes. The ceremony was scheduled for 09:00 (Timor-Leste time). Even the President hoped that the Minister of Justice gave the order to transfer the Bere from Becora prison to the Embassy of Indonesia. The talks involved the PM Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão, the Minister of Justice, the General Commander of PNTL and the President of the Court of Appeal in exercise Natércia. The Natércia as acting President of the Court of Appeal in the exercise, said verbally to the Minister of Justice, that "the power to change MB from one place to another is the Minister". The Attorney General's Office, which is also involved in the case on 27 August, was not present in the high-level meeting at the Presidential Palace, but granted the President, by telephone from Singapore, which gave full support to the decision of the State. After releasing MB from prison, there were allegations that the fault was with the President of the Republic, with others saying it was with the Government. In the end, two acts that appear to be taken as logical sequences of this decision.

First, the National Parliament has rejected the visit of President of theRepublic abroad. He related the decision of the State, with the release or transfer of Maternus Bere Becora prison to the Embassy of Indonesia. Second, the motion of censure on the government of PM Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão.

The second document, still in connection with Maternus Bere, but went on a government led by Prime Minister Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão. A transfer Maternus Bere, was a decision of the State in the national interest. In an interview with TVTL (21/09/2009), the President recognised that "Not everything legal, is to support the political decisions of the state and the national interest."
The opposition, led by Fretilin wanted to take advantage of the situation to try to overthrow the government through a motion of censure. It will not be easy because, according to the Constitution of RDTL to overthrow the government with a motion of censure, it would be necessary to have an absolute majority vote. From the mathematical point of view, this can not happen, even if all the opposition to join against AMP. The discussion and vote of censure of Fretilin, will be scheduled, possibly in early October, the Government has also signed the coalition agreement with Aliança Democrática-KOTA/PPT (Manuel Tilman and Jacob Xavier).
The argument of the motion of censure, was to consider the illegal release of Maternus Bere. But it will be a complete waste for Mari Alkatiri, because the motion will not pass in Parliament. To pass is necessary absolute majority, ie 33 votes are needed to get through the motion of censure: something impossible to Alkatiri. Now do the sums: total 21 members of Fretilin with 2 of AD-KOTA/PPT (subscribers of the motion) plus 2 members of the PUN Fernanda Borges gives25 in total. No way, comrades! Only if, by absurdity, or ambition, or any one agenda, to us unknown, the leader of a government coalition than the CNRT - because the CNRT is Xanana himself - give instructions to his deputies to vote in favour. There,indeed, may have the needed absolute majority of 33 votes. A parenthesis:there are already those looking move, disassociating themselves from the PM Xanana because of the Bere case!

At the meeting which took place in Dare, the leader of the AMP, government officials and parliamentarians (20/09/2009), outlined the strategy to confront the opposition's strategy. The AMP is more than united around a common project that unites them in the covenant, and will fulfill the term until 2012, thus contradicting the opposition's strategy of having a parliamentary majority led by the 'eternal leader' Mari Alkatiri, whose goal is to reach power as soon as possible before 2012, or by early elections,with the help of the President to dissolve the parliament and calling early elections for 2010.

The case of Maternus Bere, caused a change in strategy at Aitarak Laran Palace (Presidential Palace). In a statement exclusive to TVTL (21 and22/09/2009), the President distanced himself from the opposition and praised the policy pursued by the AMP Government in the past two years. ThePresident of the Republic continued, by pledging not to call early elections and legislative elections only in 2012.

In this term, the distribution of seats in Parliament is as follows:Fretilin - 21, CNRT - 18, Coalition ASDT / PSD - 11, PD - 8, PUN - 3,AD-KOTA/PPT - 2, UNDERTIM - 2, a total of 65 seats. And the coalition is made up of AMP CNRT with 18, the ASDT/PSD Coalitionwith 11 members (ASDT with 5 and PSD with 6) plus DP with 8 members and UNDERTIM still with 2, totalling 39 seats.

The Government is ready and prepared to respond to a motion of censure inParliament. The question rests with National Parliament, as to when it will schedule the discussion of the motion of censure. According to the Vice-President of the National Parliament (NP), Vicente Guterres, in a press statement, the priority of the National Parliament in the short term, is to discuss the Law of Financial Management and Remuneration, among others.

The strategy of censure and parliamentary inquiry into rice, came only affect the timing of the Fourth Constitutional Government. On the one hand, one ofthe greatest successes of this government was the implementation of the budget. The motion of censure and parliamentary procedure can affect the concentration of government in implementing the budget. The reform of financial management that the Fourth Constitutional Government is implementing, is one of the most important reforms that this government has achieved in just two years.

Moreover, the motion of censure and the parliamentary inquiry, match tactics adopted by the opposition of the majority in parliament to mark the national political agenda. If we look at the calendar, we find that there are only four months to finalise the financial or fiscal year 2009 and enter into debate of the State Budget for 2010. The two instruments relied on by the opposition thus become political slogans during the debate of the 2010 State Budget!

*Editor of Forum Haksesuk

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