East Timor deputy PM resigns over corruption

The prime minister reportedly called Carrascalao, 73, a “stupid liar” after the deputy accused Gusmao of involvement in an alleged 300-million-dollar corruption case in the finance ministry.

Last Updated: Sep 08, 2010, 15:37 PM IST

Dili: East Timorese Deputy Prime Minister Mario Carrascalao resigned on Wednesday over corruption after a public row with Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao about alleged graft in the finance ministry.

Carrascalao told reporters he could not tolerate being publicly insulted for blowing the whistle on "rampant" corruption.

The prime minister reportedly called Carrascalao, 73, a “stupid liar” after the deputy accused Gusmao of involvement in an alleged 300-million-dollar corruption case in the finance ministry.

"After 73 years, for the first time in my life, somebody called me a `stupid liar`. As a normal citizen, I responded by resigning as deputy prime minister," he told reporters after submitting his resignation to Gusmao.

"The corruption, collusion and nepotism remain rampant and the corruptors are protected in a mutual way. Many have spoken about corruption eradication but only a few have good intentions and remain on the front line."

East Timor`s government has faced multiple accusations of corruption, implicating senior officials including Justice Minister Lucia Lobato and Finance Minister Emilia Pires.

The government denies any wrongdoing but bowed to public concern by appointing the country`s first anti-corruption commissioner in February.

In October last year, Sebastiao Ximenes, then East Timor`s ombudsman for human rights and justice, said a lack of political will had hampered the work of his unit.

Opposition Freitlin lawmakers have questioned whether the new Anti-Corruption Commission has the unconditional support of the government.

East Timor has a population of around 1.1 million people and remains heavily dependent on international aid eight years after achieving formal independence from Indonesia.

Gusmao has pledged to invest more of the country`s oil wealth to boost growth and living standards, despite laws which allow only three percent of petroleum revenues to be withdrawn each year.

Bureau Report