Xanana Gusmao survives protest
October 14, 2009
DILI: East Timor's government survived a no-confidence vote called after it met Indonesia's request to release an alleged militia leader accused of orchestrating the slaying of women, children and priests in a church a decade ago.
The opposition Fretilin party put forward the motion in parliament to protest against Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao's August 30 order to set Maternus Bere free.
The UN has a warrant out for Bere, who is accused of crimes against humanity, including persecution, forced disappearances, torture, extermination and abduction.
The Supreme Court believes his release violated the constitution and has launched an investigation that could result in Mr Gusmao facing legal proceedings.
After heated debate that continued until late on Monday, the proposal to dissolve Mr Gusmao's cabinet failed in the 65-seat house. It received 25 votes in favour and 38 against, house Speaker Fernando de Araujo said.
Mr Gusmao, an independence-era figure who began his five-year-term in August 2007, told the legislature he was ready to accept responsibility for Bere's release. Bere was handed over to the Indonesian embassy, where he remains.
"It was purely a political decision for our good relationship with Indonesia," Mr Gusmao said.
"Prime Minister Gusmao will remain in power until 2012 because the deputies have placed their trust in you," Mr de Araujo said after the late-night session.