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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 to vote.

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.

Marí 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.

Political Enthusiast

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.

'Tough negotiator'

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.

Flag of Government of The Republic of Democratic Timor-Leste

Government of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste

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