Early parliamentary elections are set to be held nationwide on Saturday, May 12, after President Francisco Guterres Lu-Olo dissolved parliament due to a political impasse. Political rallies are expected in the coming weeks ahead of the vote, particularly in the capital city of Dili, and will likely intensify once campaigning officially starts on April 10. An increased security presence is likely in the vicinity of all rallies, and clashes between demonstrators and security personnel cannot be ruled out.
May's vote follows less than one year after the last parliamentary elections in July 2017. In general, since the last parliamentary elections, the country has endured a period of heightened political polarization in contrast to the unity government formed between the two main parties - the Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor (FRETELIN) and National Congress for Timorese Reconstruction (CNRT) parties - that had prevailed following election-related violence nearing the brink of civil war in 2007.
The last government, a FRETELIN-led minority coalition, was dissolved in December 2017. The majority opposition coalition, led by CNRT, claimed the ruling minority coalition's move to not hold parliamentary sessions in November and December was "unconstitutional," after the minority coalition failed to garner enough votes for its planned political program. In response, the ruling minority coalition leader accused the opposition majority for attempting to foment a "coup," as the Timorese constitution states that a government should be dissolved if its proffered political program is twice rejected; it was, in fact, rejected for a second time in December, triggering the dissolution of the government.
Individuals in Timor-Leste are advised to keep abreast of the sociopolitical climate in the coming weeks and months, avoid talking about sensitive political topics in public, and avoid large public gatherings due to the risk of violence.
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