East Timor election: PM Xanana Gusmao and his CNRT party consider national unity government

Votes being counted in Dili, East Timor, following the July 7 parliamentary elections. Its the country's first election without UN assistance.
Pamela Martin

The CNRT party of East Timor's Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao has begun talks to form a coalition after failing to secure an absolute majority in Saturday's parliamentary elections.

ABC Radio Australia reports that preliminary results suggest the CNRT has won 30 of the 65 seats being contested, falling just short of the 33 needed to form a government outright.

The news service says the opposition Fretilin party is on track for 25.  The Democracy Party, PD, which is currently part of the ruling coalition, appears to have eight seats and a new party calling itself Frenti-Mudanca will probably get two seats.

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AFP says the results are due to be finalized later in the week, but CNRT has already begun coalition negotiations. The four parties with seats are also considering forming a national unity government in which they would all govern together, according to the Sydney Morning Herald.  The idea is being backed by the former president, Jose Ramos Horta, and the influential Catholic Bishop of Dili, Alberto Ricardo.

“(We) must receive and embrace each other,” Bishop Ricardo is quoted as saying.  "With cooperation and in unity our nation can move forward and look for the progress that we want − material and spiritual.”

The UN has praised the conduct of the poll, says the BBC, which is seen as a key factor in determining whether peacekeepers leave at the end of this year as planned.

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