The mandate for the post of Chief of State-Major General of FALINTIL Defense Force of Timor-Leste (CEMG F-FDTL), currently held by Major General Lere Anan Timur, ended on October 6th 2018. Since then, it has been more than three months, during which the CEMG F-FDTL post has remained in a position of legal uncertainty. Regarding the case, Fundasaun Mahein (FM) observes that the government and the President of the Republic have failed to resolve this ambiguity. Major General Lere Anan Timur thus remains in legal limbo because his mandate has technically run out, yet there has not yet been a decision to re-nominate him for the post or to nominate a new CEMG.
Meanwhile, the mandate for component commanders ended on November 17th 2018 (decree of the president republic no.46/2016 on 23rd November). Regarding this case, the Government needs to make new nominations pursuant to no 1 and 2 artigu 75 Decreto-Lei N.o 28/2016 de 13 de Julho Primeira Alteração ao Decreto-Lei N.o 7/2014, de 12 de Março (Estatuto dos Militares das F-FDTL) order, which states that posts for component commanders last for a maximum of two years and can be renewed only once. However, there have still been no new nominations. The position of the component commanders is thus mired in legal uncertainty as well.
This situation has been ignored for too long. The government must focus on this issue and begin the nomination process as soon as possible. The process starts with the Ministry of Defense initiating an audit and consulting with the Superior Council of Military Defense. After auditing and consulting with the Superior Council, the Ministry of Defense must then present its decisions to the Ministry Council for approval. The final step of the process is for the Ministry Council to present its nominations to the President of the Republic for approval, with the final decision being published in the Jornal da Republika (Decreto do Governo n.° 6/2016, de 11 de Maio Regimento do Conselho Superior de Defesa Militar).
Many questions remain. Why has the Government and the Ministry of Defense not yet started this vital process? If the process has in fact begun, why have nominations not been submitted to the President of the Republic and why has the latter not made a decision? Is this general uncertainty a function of the political impasse that is taking place between the President of the Republic, National Parliament and the Government?
FM recommends immediate and open dialogue in order to resolve the uncertain legal situation of F-FDTL leaders. The President of the Republic needs to organize a Superior Council of Defense and Security meeting to discuss this issue; such important posts in the military bureaucracy should not be subject to this degree of uncertainty. When the mandate of the top commander of the armed forces does not rest on a solid legal basis, it makes it difficult for F-FDTL officials to fulfill their duties, as they are not able to exercise legitimate power based on existing laws and procedures.