East Timor's Xanana Gusmao to seek another term as PM | Connect Asia

East Timor's Xanana Gusmao to seek another term as PM

East Timor's Xanana Gusmao to seek another term as PM

Updated 21 February 2012, 15:39 AEDT

East Timor's Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao says he will stand for re-election in June.

But he's not saying who he will be supporting in the country's Presidential race next month.

Prime Minister Gusmao is wrapping up a six day visit to Australia where he met with his counterpart Julia Gillard and Defence Minister Stephen Smith.

Australia's contribution of around 400 troops to the International Stabilisation Force in East Timor is set to wind-up later this year.

Speaking in Sydney at the launch of his second book of speeches and writings, Xanana Gusmao says negotiations with Woodside Petroleum on the troubled Sunrise natural gas project are improving.

Correspondent: Karon Snowdon

Speakers: Xanana Gusmao, Prime Minister of East Timor

GUSMAO: As Prime Minister I cannot, as chairman of my own party we decided that we will not support particularly any candidate because we understand that a president must be chosen by the people.

SNOWDON: When I interviewed you maybe five years ago from memory you said at that time you'd be happy to grow pumpkins and concentrate more on your writing. Do you still feel like that or are you going to stay in politics? What are your plans?

GUSMAO: Every day, every day I'm glad not to have time to grow pumpkins, to sell to Australia, to write and to come and launch books (laughs).

SNOWDON: And the future, so will there be another prime ministerial term for Xanana Gusmao?

GUSMAO: In June we'll try our best.

SNOWDON: So you will be running again?

GUSMAO: If people trust, if we had the confidence of the people.

SNOWDON: I understand that you discussed the security for the elections with Australia's Defence Minister Stephen Smith. Do you have any concerns about security or the potential for violence during the election period?

GUSMAO: We've done a lot of preparation for this, by studying the situation we saw that we are in a condition to say that it will go smoothly, and then with the Defence Minister we discussed it more post-ISF period.

SNOWDON: Aside from the ongoing defence cooperation and the maritime issues that Australia and East Timor will continue with, after the end of the ISF in East Timor will you be wanting to see Australia's direct involvement in the internal security of East Timor for a period after that?

GUSMAO: We are in discussions with both ISF and the UN. We feel we are already capable to look after our security but ISF will after the elections will start to withdraw. We didn't define the time exactly.

SNOWDON: You had a meeting with Woodside CEO Peter Coleman and I understand that's the first face-to-face meeting with a Woodside chief executive that you've had. Was it a productive meeting, have the positions changed at all, is Woodside sticking with a position that's unacceptable to East Timor about the LNG processing plant?

GUSMAO: It was very, very productive. We built confidence, trust, we explained to each other each one's perspective, and I believe also that Peter Coleman understands now better why we demand that the LNG plant should be in our shore. I believe also that we will go together for a solution that can benefit both us and Australia.

SNOWDON: You say that Peter Coleman in that meeting with you came to a better understanding of East Timor's position and the reason it wants the LNG processing plant built in East Timor. Did Peter Coleman give you any undertaking on that score?

GUSMAO: Well being Prime Minister means I have other members of government that can talk in technical problems, in many, many other things of the negotiation. It was just we can say the kick-off climate of more better understanding.

SNOWDON: Your national strategic development plan relies very much on revenues from the oil and gas industries. Are you happy that that's secure and will be well managed, are you confident of that?

GUSMAO: The problem is that we have to break this situation. We are not a banker, we are a state, a young country and nation, and that is why considering the fact that we are the first in Asia and in the world to promote transparency in using petroleum fund. We are confident that by investing well these revenues we can better the conditions of our people. We have to invest in infrastructure, we have to invest in health, we have to invest in education, we have to invest in many, many other things, we need to use this money properly with all the rules that are defined already in our laws.

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