Venidora Oliveira – The Civil registry has granted 680 foreigners Timorese citizenship, mostly from Indonesia.
Department head Manuel Gama said the applicants had fulfilled the criteria under citizenship laws N. 9/2012 and n. 1/2004. He said the majority were originally from Indonesia and were getting married to Timorese citizens.
To be eligible for Timorese citizenship applicants must have been married to a Timorese citizen and living together in Timor for more five years or been living in Timor for 10 years.
Of the 680 people granted citizenship, 640 were from Indonesia, two from Australia and one each from Bangladesh, Pakistan, 1 India, 1 Angola, the Philippines, Vietnam, 1 Mozambique, Cuba, England, Sri Lanka and Belgium.
Most of the applicants were married to Timorese citizens, while seven of them had been living in Timor-Leste for more 10 years. "The main thing is that they should be able to speak Tetun," he said.
National MP Francisco da Costa said although foreigners were allowed under law to apply for Timorese citizenship, the government needed to put in place adequate controls. He said in some cases, foreigners got married to a Timorese woman with a specific purpose rather than genuine reasons.
"After five or six years of marriage, they abandon our Timorese women then leave our country with all money that they have earned," he said. He said the government needed to implement stricter controls to prevent this from occurring.