Historical Archive

  • Succession of Governments, general elections and legislatures
    • I Transitional Administration and Drafting of the Constitution

      A) United Nations Mission and Transitional Administrator

      Through the popular consultation held on 30 August 1999, organised by the United Naitonsin accordance with the agreement between Portugal and Indonesia in New York on May 5 1999as a cconsequence of mediation of the Secretary General of the United Nations on, the people of Timor-Leste voted overwhelming in favour of separation from Indonesia. . A total of 78.5% of the votes were in favour of separation from the Republic of Indonesia, thus rejecting the option of special autonomy.
      The popular consultation was organized and supervised by a special mission known as the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET), established under Resolution no. 1246 of the United Nations Security Council, and led by Ian Martin on behalf of the Secretary General of the United Nations.

      The official announcement of the results of the popular consultation, on 4 September 1999 in Dili, East Timor, was followed by a wave of violence carried out predominantly by militias in favour of integration, inflicting with many abuses of human rights, including murders and sex offences1. The climate of terror in the territory led the United Nations Security Council to approve the despatch of a multinational force, under the command of Australia to end to the violence and to restore public order and stability. This predominantly military contingent was established pursuant to Resolution no. 1264 of the United Nations Security Council and was designated as the International Force in East Timor (INTERFET). This force arrived in East Timor on 20 September 1999.

      The INTERFET intervention was followed by a special mission of the United Nations tasked with administering the territory until the necessary conditions were created for the Country to be ruled by bodies of national sovereignty elected by the people of East Timor.

      The mission transitional established under Resolution no. 1272 of the United Nations Security Council was named the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), which included, for the first time in the history of the United Nations, a Transitional Administration. This mission commenced its mandate on 25 October 1999 and was led by Mr. Sregio Vieira de Mello asthe Transitional Administrator and the Special Representative of the Secretary General of the United Nations. Although assisted by teams of technical officers and advisors, with the obligation to consult the Timorese people, the Transitional Administrator accrued legislative and administrative or executive powers required for pursuing the goals assigned to the Trasiotnal Adminsitration.2

      The Timor-Leste Transitional Administration was also designated by the abbreviation ETTA (East Timor Transitional Administration), corresponding to the Portuguese abbreviation ATTL (Administração Transitória de Timor-Leste).

      Transitional administration was, therefore, undertaken by just one individual, who was subsequently assisted by the Transitional Office of Timor-Leste3. No member of this office held determinative or binding powers in regard to the Transitional administration.


      (1) As reported by the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation and set out in its report “Enough”.
      (2) The powers of the Transitional Administrator were set out in UNTAET’s Regulation no. 1, of 27 November.
      Created by UNTAET’s Regulation no. 23/2000, of 14 July.

      B) National Consultative Council and National Council

      UNTAET’s Regulation no. 2/1999 also established, on 2 December 1999, a consultative body for the Transitional Administrator named the National Consultative Council, which was chaired by Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão. This council had an advisory and recommendation role in regard to the legislative and executive competences of the Transitional Administrator. The Council was divided into a number of sub-committees to enable the council to carry out its functions more effectively.. It consisted of 15 members, appointed by the Transitional Administrator, eleven of which represented the broader Timorese community including political and religious groups. including seven representatives from the National Council of the Timorese Resistance (CNRT), three from other political groups that existed prior to 30 August 1999, one from the Roman Catholic Church, three from UNTAET and the Transitional Administrator himself, who presided over the Council [Claudia - who presided over this body? Xanana or the Administrator – its says both here – the President/Chair was SRSG Sergio de Mello]

      Following demands for increased participation and decision making power by the Timorese, a process called “Timorization” took place. This resulted in demands for Timorese to be more involved in the transitional process led by the Transitional Administration and a strengthening of the powers of the Consultative Council.

      As a result, the National Consultative Council was replaced by the National Council, established by UNTAET’s Regulation no. 24/2000, of 14 July. This new body consisted of 33 representatives from relevant organisations of the Timorese civil society (seven from CNRT, three from other political groups, one each from the Catholic Chruch, protestant churches, Muslim community, women’s organisations, student and youth organizations, the Timorese NGO Forum, farmers, the business community, employee organisations and one from each of the 13 districts of Timor-Leste).

      The number of members was soon increased to 36, with the three additional members being selected according to the criterion of the Transitional Administrator from members of the CNRT and / or political parties not affiliated with the CNRT4.

      The National Council had considerably broader competences, but still lacked the power to make determinations that would bind the Transitional Administrator. Its powers included the ability to recommend regulations to UNTAET and to approve draft UNTAET or propose amendments.

      Although the Transitional Administrator was not required to accept proposed amendments issued by the National Council, all proposals were accepted.

      The first session of the National Council took place under the presidency of Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão on 23 October 2000.

      Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão resigned from his presidency of the Conucil on 28 March 2001, Manuel Viegas Carrascalão was subsequently elected to preside over the National Council

      The National Council completed its mandate and dissolve on 14 July 2001.5

      (4) UNTAET’s Regulation no. 33/2000, of 26 October, revising UNTAET’s Regulation no. 24/2000, of 14 July.
      (5) UNTAET’s Directive no. 8/2001, of 14 July.


      Following the moves to progressively provide sovereign powers to the Timorese people, and in bearing in mind the outcome of the election for the Constituent Assembly, UNTAET’s Regulation no. 28/2001, of 19 September, created the Second Transitional Government and established a Council of Ministers consisting solely of Timorese members. This Government came into effect on 14 September 2001 ands its structure was refined by UNTAET’s Regulation no. 7/2002, on 18 May.

      The Council of Ministers included a Chief Minister who presided over the Council, Ministers, Vice Ministers and Secretaries of State. All these officials were still appointed by the Transitional Administrator and reported to him.

      As such, the mandate of the I Transitional Government exercised sovereignty from 14 July 2000 to 13 September 2001. The II Transitional Government administered the territory between 20 September 2001 and 19 May 2002, led by Mari Alkatiri as Chief Minister, while still relying on the the legislative power of the Transitional Administrator.

      D) Constitutional Commissions and Constituent Assembly

      UNTAET’s Directive no. 3/2001, of 31 March 2001, created thirteen constitutional commissions (one for each administrative district), consisting entirely of Timorese citizens (5-7 persons) advised by national and international experts. Their mission was to seek opinions from the Timorese people, from 1 April to 15 July 2001, on the nature of the Constitution of the Country, as well as to draft and present written and non-binding reports to the Transitional Administrator and to the Constituent Assembly.

      • Democratic Party (PD) - 7 mandatos;
      • Social Democratic Party (PSD) - 6;
      • Social Democratic Association of Timor (ASDT) - 6;
      • Timorese Democratic Union (UDT) - 2;
      • Timorese Nationalistic Party (PNT) - 2;
      • Klibur Oan Timor Asuwain (KOTA) - 2;
      • Timorese People’s Party (PPT) - 2;
      • Christian Democratic Party (PDC) - 2;
      • Timorese Socialist Party (PST) - 1;
      • Liberal Party (PL) - 1;
      • Christian Democratic Union (UDC) - 1;
      • Independent - 1.

      The electoral law on which the appointment of members was based (UNTAET’s Regulation no. 2/2001, of 26 February) adopted a mixed system, combining a national electoral circle with 75 members of parliament elected through a proportional representation (called “national representatives”) and 13 district circles electing one member each through a ‘first past the post’ system (called “district representatives”).
      In the time between the dissolution of the National Council and the election of the Constituent Assembly, the constitutional commissions completed their work and finished their written reports which were presented to the relevant bodies, including the Transitional Administrator and the Constituent Assembly

      The Constituent Assembly was given a mandate which included:

      • Drafting and approving a Constitution for the Nation;
      • Revising orapproving draft UNTAET Regulations submitted to it for appreciation by the II Transitional Government (which was in office up to 19 May 2002).

      The Constituent Assembly was inaugurated on 15 September 2001 and was dissolved around six months later, on 22 March 2002, with the approval and signing of the the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste.

    • II General Elections For Elective Sovereignty Bodies

      Under the Constitution both the National Parliament and the President of the Republic are to be elected by direct, universal and periodic suffrage.

      • National Parliament;
      • President of the Republic.

      The Government is drawn from the floor of the National Parliament, and consists of individuals appointed by the Prime Minister, who in turn is called upon to form a government by the President of the Republic.

      A) President of the Republic

      The first democratically elected President of the Republic was Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão on 14 April 2002, with over 82% of the votes according to simple majority electoral system pursuant to UNTAET’s Regulation no. 1/2002. The only opposing candidate was the historic leader of ASDT, Francisco Xavier do Amaral, who gained 17% of the vote6.

      However, as the Constitution had not yet entered into force, the President-did not commence hi for a five-year mandate until 20 May 2002.

      After the first President of the Republic completed his mandate, the next presidential elections took place in 2007, under a new electoral law that established a two-round election system. The first round, which took place on 9 April, had the following candidates: Francisco Guterres “Lu-Olo” (FRETILIN), José Ramos-Horta (independent), João Viegas Carrascalão (UDT), Francisco Xavier do Amaral (ASDT), Avelino Coelho (PST), Manuel Tilman (KOTA), Lúcia Lobato (PSD) and Fernando La Sama de Araújo (PD)7. As no candidate obtained the minimum amount of votes required by the electoral law (over half of the valid votes), a second round was held between the two candidates who had received the most votes: Francisco Guterres “Lu Olo” and José Ramos-Horta. In the second round, José Ramos-Horta achieved 69% of the vote and was sworn in to Office before the National Parliament on 20 May 2007. He continues in Office as the second President of the Republic.

      (6) The election date and the electoral campaign period were set through UNTAET’s Directive no. 1/2002, of 5 March.
      (7) The election date was set through Presidential Decree no. 1/2007, of 2 February.

      B) National Parliament

      The Constituent Assembly was transformed into the National Parliament, with the same 88 Deputies that made up the Constituent Assembly. The death of a “district” Member of Parliament (who under law could not be replaced) resulted in the National Parliament having only 87 members during part of its mandate.

      The National Parliament was presided over by the former fighter and veteran of the Resistance Francisco Guterres “Lu-Olo”, head of FRETILIN.

      The next elections for the National Parliament took place on 30 June 2007 under a system of proportional representation according to party lists.

      This election resulted in the following party representation:

      • FRETILIN - 21 seats;
      • National Council for the Reconstruction of Timor-Leste (CNRT) - 18;
      • ASDT / PSD Colligation - 11 (5 from ASDT and 6 from PSD);
      • PD - 8;
      • National Unity Party (PUN) 8;
      • Democratic Alliance Colligation (KOTA / PPT) - 2 (1 from o KOTA and 1 from PPT);
      • National Democratic Union of the Timorese Resistance (UNDERTIM)9.

      The first plenary meeting of the National Parliament after the election took place on 30 July 200710.

      Mr Fernando La Sama de Araújo, the head of PD, was elected as Speaker and remains in that office.

      Soon after the election, CNRT, PD and the ASDT/PSD coalition announced they had formed the

      Alliance of the Parliamentary Majority (AMP), with a total representation of 37 Members of Parliament (18 from CNRT, 8 from PD, 6 from PSD and 5 from ASDT).

      On the basis of this parliamentary majority and acting in accordance with his constitutional powers, the President of the Republic then invited, the head of CNRT and the AMP to form a government.

      On 21 August the National Parliament , following an initiative of PUN, approved a congratulatory vote “for the constitutional appointment of the Prime Minister indicated by the alliance of parties with parliamentary majority”.

      The parliamentary bench of UNDERTIM subsequently declared its support to the Government and joined the AMP parliamentary alliance.

      (8) Deputy Mateus de Jesus, , was expelled from PUN but maintained his seat as Member of Parliament (a Member of Parliament holds office as an individual, rather than subject to the approval of the party under which he or she is registered. A Member of Parliament only loses his or her position if he or she registers in a party other than the one under which he or she was elected).
      (9) The official outcome and the due conversion of votes into mandates were formalised under the applicable electoral law through the Dispatch by the Court of Appeal issued in Case no. 02/PE.PN/GERAL/2007 and published in Series I, no. 18, of 16 July 2007, of Jornal da República.
      (10) Once more with a slight delay regarding the normal annual legislative cycles (legislative sessions) that, according to the Rules of Procedure for the National Parliament, as indicated in Section 99 of the Constitution, should go from 15 September of one year to 14 September of the following year, so that a new legislative session may be started on 15 September of this next year.

    • III Constitutional Governments

      The I Constitutional Government, led by Mari Hamud Alkatiri, was sworn in on 20 May 2002, on the same date that the independence of Timor-Leste was proclaimed and of the first plenary meeting of the I Legislature of the National Parliament11.

      Following the political and military crisis of 2006, the Prime Minister presented his resignation, which was accepted by the President of the Republic which, in accordance with the constitution, resulted in the end of his Government on 26 June 200612.

      As the constitution, and in particular Section 86(f), does not require the dissolution of the National Parliament in such circumstances, the President sought a way forward within the context of the existing Parliament in order to promote stability and allow the term of the National Parliament to continue.13

      As a result, the II and III Constitutional Governments were to be short-lived and resulted from presidential initiative.

      Mr José Ramos-Horta was appointed as Prime-Minister of the II Constitutional Government and the members of government were sworn into office on 18 July 200614. The II Constitutional Government completed its mandate on 17 May 2007, due to the resignation of the Prime-Minister, who had been elected President of the Republic15.

      The III Constitutional Government, headed by Mr Estanislau da Silva as Prime Minister, was sworn into office on 18 May 200716 and remained in power until 8 August 2007.

      As noted above, following national elections, the IV Constitutional Government, was sworn in on 8 August 2007 led by Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão as Prime Minister.17

      (11) Mr Mari Alkatiri was appointed Prime Minister through Presidential Decree no. 1/2002, of 20 May, with the further Members of Government chosen by him sworn in through Presidential Decree no. 1-A/2002, also of 20 May.
      (12) Presidential Decree no. 6-A/2006, of 5 July.
      (13) Section 86 (f) of the Constitution only requires the President of the Republic to dissolve the National Parliament “in case of a serious institutional crisis preventing the formation of a government or the approval of the State General Budget and lasting more than sixty days”.
      (14) Presidential Decrees no. 5/2006, 6/2006, 7/2006, 8/2006 and 9/2006, all of 18 July, with the remaining members of Government being appointed at a later date.
      (15) Presidential Decree no. 14/2007, of 18 May.
      (16) Presidential Decrees no. 15/2007, 16/2007, 17/2007, 18/2007, 19/2007, 20/2007, 21/2007, 22/2007, 23/2007, 24/2007, 25/2007, 26/2007, 27/2007, 28/2007, 29/2007, 30/2007, 31/2007, 32/2007, 33/2007, 34/2007, 35/2007, 36/2007, 37/2007, 38/2007, 39/2007, 40/2007, 41/2007, 42/2007, 43/2007, 44/2007, 45/2007, 46/2007, 47/2007, 48/2007 e 49/2007, all of 18 May.

      Author: Office of the Secretary of State for the Council of Ministers

      Timor-Leste Memory; “Timorese Resistance – Archive and Museum”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Camões Institute, Portuguese Cultural Centre in Dili (work published in Dili under several other sponsorships); “2007 General Elections – Presidential / Parliamentary”, STAE-MAE, 2007; “The Interim Parliament of East Timor”, Adelina Sá Carvalho Constitutional and Parliamentary Information, Publications of the Association of Secretaries General of Parliaments; “Parliamentary Cooperation between Portugal and Portuguese-Speaking Countries”, Assembly of the Republic, Lisbon, November 2002; “10th Anniversary of the Popular Consultation of 30 August 1999”, Office of the Secretary of State for the Council of Ministers, August 2009; “Report on the Activities of the First Legislative Session of the Second Legislature”, National Parliament of Timor-Leste, September 2008; “Timor-Leste: A strategy for building the foundation of governance for peace and stability”, Public Information Office (PIO) of UNMISET, Civilian Support Group Advisors, 2004; UN website; website of the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation; political and normative acts (regulations, directives and executive orders of the UNTAET, relevant resolutions of the Security Council and laws of the State of Timor-Leste; institutional pamphlet distributed during the campaign for the 2007 legislative elections, containing the symbols, names, abbreviations and summaries of the electoral programs of the running parties and political forces, with the sponsorship of the New Zealand and American cooperation (NZAID e USAID); memories and personal archives of advisors, staff and collaborators during this period in the History of Timor-Leste.

  • Governments of Timor-Leste
  • II UNTAET Transitional Government
  • I Constitutional Government
  • II Constitutional Government
  • III Constitutional Government
  • IV Constitutional Government
  • V Constitutional Government
  • VI Constitutional Government
  • VII Constitutional Government
  • VIII Constitutional Government