Sunday 19 Aug 2018 | 14:01 | SYDNEY
Sunday 19 Aug 2018 | 14:01 | SYDNEY

Post-post script on presidential powers


Alex Oliver


30 July 2010 12:41

In response to my post on the powers of the President of Timor-Leste, an Interpreter reader has pointed out that in addition to the powers referred to in that post (for which the President has sole competence or requires only consultation with government before exercise), the President has further, and possibly quite potent powers:

  • to declare war, peace and states of siege or emergency, under authorisation of National Parliament and after consultation with the Council of State and the Supreme Council of Defence and Security (sections 85 and 87(d))
  • to conduct, in consulation with the Government, any negotiation process towards the completion of international agreements in the field of defence and security

Says our reader:

The implication of this, which seems to have been overlooked in media commentary, is that it would be perfectly reasonable for a foreign government to contact President Ramos-Horta to initiate negotiations on a security or defence agreement.  It would then be incumbent on the President to pursue the negotiations in consultation with Prime Minister Gusmao and his government. 
I'm not suggesting this security/defence provision is necessarily relevant in the context of asylum-seekers.  As a matter of process, though, it's interesting that Prime Minister Gusmao seems to have asked President Ramos-Horta to continue the discussions with Australia on a regional processing centre for now.  Section 87(d) just seemed to me a slightly stronger example of how misplaced the representation of Ramos-Horta as a ceremonial president is, and how characteristically tongue-in-cheek Ramos-Horta was being at the National Press Club in his comments about cutting wedding cakes and ribbons.

Photo by Flickr user presidencymaldives, used under a Creative Commons license.