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Transcript of doorstop interview: Paris, France: 26 June 2006: [Possible resignation of Timorese Prime Minister].

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DATE: 26 June 2006

TITLE: Doorstop, Paris

MR DOWNER: … his comments are that he will consider resigning. But first of all we’re not sure whether he is formally going to resign or not. But I think its worth saying that it’s good to see that the East Timorese are now working through their political problems - and are not just lying back and expecting us to provide appropriate security for East Timor, without the East Timorese themselves addressing their fundamental problems that have caused the insecurity in the country. So we welcome the fact that they are now taking steps to resolve these difficulties. If that involves the resignation of the Prime Minister, that’s a decision for them. If they think that is going to lead to the country being more stable and having a better capacity to resolve its difficulties, then that judgement has to be made by them. And, if there’s to be a new Prime Minister, we look forward to working with the new Prime Minister and encouraging any new Prime Minister to address the key issues that have to be addressed - including negotiations with the people who were sacked from the East Timor defence force, negotiations with people from the defence force who have gone out and supported those people. So if there is to be a new Prime Minister, that new Prime Minister will have an enormous challenge to get the country back onto stable feet. But we would emphasise that this whole question of whether Alkatiri is the Prime Minister or whether he isn’t is a matter for the East Timorese. We welcome the fact that they are taking steps to try to resolve their political problems, tumultuous as those steps may be.

REPORTER: Do you think that a couple of times over the last few days, he may go (inaudible)?

MR DOWNER: It’s up to them. But he has put out a statement now that indicates he’s likely to resign. Let us wait and see how that plays out. It’s not clear until he actually hands in his resignation that he will have resigned.

REPORTER: And what does (inaudible) for José Ramos Horta?

MR DOWNER: Well I assume if Alkatiri resigns then José Ramos Horta will offer himself again to be a Minister in the re-formed Government and that’s what he indicated to me when I spoke to him yesterday.

REPORTER: President Gusmao (inaudible) stand down (inaudible)?

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MR DOWNER: He has suggested he might stand down. As you can see from Alkatiri’s statement, it’s obviously something that has caused Mr Alkatiri a great deal of concern. I think if there is a figure that has strong popular support across East Timor it’s President Gusmao, there’s no doubt about that. The indications are now that he won’t stand down. I

think there have been statements made and decisions taken. It’s good that we haven’t put ourselves (inaudible) to being a commentator on all of those issues - we have our own private views about these things, understandably, and we try to be careful with those publicly.