East Timorís constitution
took effect when the territory officially became independent
in May 2002. It provides for a democratic republic with a
president as head of state and a prime minister as head of
government. All citizens aged 18 and older have the right
The prime minister oversees the day-to-day
functioning of government and chairs the Council of Ministers.
The prime minister is designated by the political party or
alliance of political parties with a majority in the national
legislature and formally appointed by the president. Ministers
are also appointed by the president, following the recommendations
of the prime minister.
As head of the first government of an
independent Timor-Leste, the Prime Minister is charged with
the enormous task of building a government from almost nothing.
The United Nations second mission in Timor-Leste (UNTAET -
United Nations Transitional Administration East Timor) acted
as the governing body of Timor-Leste from 2000 to May 20,
2002 when Timor-Leste made the final transition to independence.
Now, the Prime Minister and his government
are rebuilding the country and its institutions with minimal
resources including a severe lack of human resources and skills.
They are reconstructing a nation in which most homes, government
buildings and essential infrastructure were destroyed by exiting
Indonesian militia in 1999 after an overwhelming vote for
independence. The government is facing the challenges of unacceptably
high rates of illiteracy, infant mortality, and post-conflict
trauma. Most people in Timor-Leste do not have access to running
water or electricity in their homes. And, the people of Timor-Leste
are coming to terms with freedom and the ideals of democracy
after more than 400 years of colonization and occupation.
This first government of Timor-Leste and
its Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, have tackled these difficulties
in the first two years of its five year term. With the support
of its development partners, the government has written and
approved the Timor-Leste Constitution, and in accordance with
the Constitution a National Development Plan and The Road
Map for the implementation of NDP programs. The Timor-Leste
Government is considered by the World Bank to be the 'strongest
institution in Timor-Leste". Despite weaknesses in other
institutions the government upholds and practices the principles
of transparency, accountability and the rule of law.
The Prime Minister is committed to ensuring
the government continues to reduce poverty and improve the
livelihoods of the people of Timor-Leste. He is also committed
to ensuring the development of all important sectors relevant
to this objective as set out in the National Development Plan
with the hope of a prosperous and safe future for Timor-Leste.
Mari bim Alkatiri: The Prime Minister
While East Timor's President, Xanana Gusmao
-a former guerrilla fighter and poet - is viewed as a charismatic
"man of the people", Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri
is lower profile and is seen as more elusive.
Alkatiri helped to found the independence party Fretilin.
bim Amude Alkatiri (born 26 November 1949) is the first
Prime Minister of an internationally recognized East Timor.
Before entering politics, he was a chartered surveyor,
and lived in exile during Indonesian occupation.The 54-year-old
former chartered surveyor spent the years of Indonesia's
occupation of East Timor living in political exile, only
returning to the territory in 1999 ahead of the vote for
independence. He was engaged in academic teaching in Mozambique.
But he established his political roots
from an early age.
He entered political life in January 1970,
when he was 20, with the establishment of the Movement for
the Liberation of East Timor when the territory was still
under Portuguese rule.
Mr Alkatiri went on to become one of the
founder members of Fretilin, the party which was instrumental
in achieving East Timor's independence from Indonesian rule.
When East Timor finally voted to become
independent he entered the interim administration as economics
minister, forging his reputation as a tough operator as chief
negotiator over the rich petroleum resources in the sea between
Australia and Timor.
The Prime Minister is the head of the
Timor-Leste Government and is ultimately responsible to the
people of Timor-Leste for policy development and the decisions
taken by the government.