There was an attempted coup in Timor-Leste (East Timor) yesterday. President Jose Ramos-Horta was shot and seriously wounded. Prime Minister Jose Alexandre Gusmao was also attacked in a separate incident, but managed to escape unharmed.
Timor-Leste has been independent since 2002. Gusmao served as President from 2002-2007, while Ramos-Horta was Prime Minister from 2006-2007 before being elected President. On the basis of the constitution, the prime minister has more powers than the president. Using Shugart and Carey’s categorisation, Timor-Leste has a premier-presidential form of semi-presidentialism.
The country has been classed as Partly Free by Freedom House for the period since independence with an aggregate score of 3 until 2007, when the score fell to 3.5. It has also been classed as an Electoral Democracy since 2002 by Freedom House. Polity have given a score of 6 to Timor-Leste from 2002-2004 inclusive. This corresponds to the upper range of the anocracy category i.e., a country that has many characteristics of a democracy but that remains fairly unstable.
There are a couple of useful articles specifically on semi-presidentialism in Timor-Leste. While modesty almost forbids, it doesn’t quite manage it, so I would recommend the chapter by Dennis Shoesmith in Robert Elgie and Sophia Moestrup (eds,), Semi-presidentialism Outside Europe, London: Routledge, 2007. Denis Shoesmith also has another article in Asian Survey, vol. 43, no. 2, 2003, pp. 231-252.
In addition, background information on the constitution can found in the article by Hillary Charlesworth in International Journal of Constitutional Law, vol. 1, no. 2, 2003, pp. 325-344. There is an article on the 2006 crisis, which was a precursor to yesterday’s coup attempt. This is by James Cotton in Australian Journal of International Affairs, vol. 61, no. 4, pp. 455-470. There are also a couple of articles on the first elections in the country. These are by Anthony L. Smith in Journal of Democracy, vol. 15, no. 2, 2004, pp. 145-159, and by Dwight Y. King in Asian Survey, vol. 43, no. 5, 2003, pp. 745-757.