East Timor swears in new anti-graft boss

East Timor swears in new anti-graft bossAFP/File – East Timor policemen parade during a ceremony in the nation's capital, Dili. The country?s government …

DILI (AFP) – East Timor?s first anti-corruption commissioner was sworn in Monday during a parliamentary ceremony that was broadcast live around the tiny nation.

But on his first day in the job former human rights lawyer Aderito Soares was obliged to play down concerns that Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao's government is not fully behind him.

"There is great political will from the government and all parts of society," he told AFP after the ceremony. "I see today as a very important moment."

Gusmao and senior lawmakers welcomed Soares to his new position with handshakes and hugs before a champagne toast outside parliament.

Soares was confirmed as anti-corruption chief after winning 40 of 65 votes from lawmakers on February 1.

A founder and board member of East Timor?s respected La'o Hamutuk civil society organisation, he has pledged to plough straight into cases already with the nation?s prosecutors.

East Timor?s government has faced multiple accusations of corruption, implicating senior officials including Justice Minister Lucia Lobato and Finance Minister Emilia Pires.

The government denies any wrongdoing.

In October, Sebastiao Ximenes, then East Timor?s Ombudsman for Human Rights and Justice, said a lack of political will had hampered the work of his unit.

Opposition Freitlin lawmaker Arsenio Bano has questioned what chance the Anti-Corruption Commission has for success if it does not have the unconditional support of the government.

"Given that (Gusmao) has ignored and obstructed the opposition's efforts in parliament to investigate allegations of corruption against his government, which institution will provide the checks and balances in relation to his governance of Timor-Leste?" he said earlier this month.

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