Estanislau da Silva

Estanislau da Conceição Aleixo Maria da Silva (born 4 August 1952) is an East Timorese politician and a key member of the Fretilin. He was acting Prime Minister from May 2007 to August 2007.

Estanislau da Silva
2016-02-04 Estanislau da Silva.jpg
4th Prime Minister of East Timor
In office
19 May 2007 – 8 August 2007
PresidentJosé Ramos-Horta
Preceded byJosé Ramos-Horta
Succeeded byXanana Gusmão
Personal details
Born (1952-08-04) 4 August 1952 (age 70)
Dili, Portuguese Timor
(now East Timor)
Political partyFretilin

A member of Fretilin since 1974, Da Silva served on the diplomatic front for the East Timorese resistance during the years of the Indonesian occupation of Timor Leste (1975 to 1999). During the occupation, Da Silva resided in Mozambique (1976 to 1984), Portugal (1975 to 1976 and 1984 to 1985) and Australia (1985 to 1999), before returning to Timor Leste in 1999.

After Timor Leste achieved independence in 2002, Da Silva was appointed as the country's first Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. On 10 July 2006, he was sworn in as the First Deputy Prime Minister of Timor Leste. He was sworn in as the acting Prime Minister on 19 May 2007 to replace José Ramos-Horta who had been elected President of the young nation. He left office when Xanana Gusmão was sworn in as Prime Minister on 8 August 2007, following the June 2007 parliamentary election.

Early lifeEdit

Da Silva was born in Dili in 1952 to Luis da Silva and Genoveva Aleixo. He attended primary school from 1961-1962 to 1964-1965 in Fuiloro - Lautém district, and Dili Technical School from 1965-1966 to 1970-1971. Upon graduation from Dili Technical School, Da Silva went to Lisbon to pursue further training in electrical and mechanical engineering.

Political activitiesEdit

Da Silva joined Fretilin in 1974 and was a founding member of the Fretilin External Branch in Lisbon.

In 1976, Mr Da Silva interrupted his studies in Lisbon and was sent to Australia by the Fretilin leadership to lobby support for Timor Leste's independence struggle. During that time Australian supporters of Timor Leste's independence struggle (Campaign for Independence of East Timor - CIET) requested that Da Silva assist Neville Cunningham and António Belo operate a radio connection to the Fretilin leadership in Timor-Leste. As Da Silva was not an Australian resident, he had to operate the radio underground and spent six months in bush of the Northern Territory in radio contact with the Fretilin leadership in Timor-Leste.

In September 1976, Da Silva and Cunningham were encircled and arrested by the Northern Territory police and the radio link was stopped. Da Silva was released after a one-day trial and he decided to settle in Mozambique. The radio link was later re-established by Fretilin members and Australian supporters of Timor Leste's struggle for independence.

Upon his return to Australia in 1985, Da Silva campaigned tirelessly for Timor-Leste's independence. This included speaking at public forums, organising demonstrations against the illegal Indonesian occupation, organising fundraising activities and lobbying MPs. Da Silva also maintained regular contact with the clandestine movement and the Fretilin leadership in Timor Leste and assisted in helping persons in danger of persecution in Timor Leste escape and settle in Australia. In 1994 he became Fretilin Representative in Australia.

Da Silva was voted into the Fretilin Central Committee in 1998 at the Fretilin National Conference held in Sydney, Australia. His mandate was renewed at the First National Congress in 2001 as well as the Second National Congress which was held in May 2006. He was elected Chairperson in both events. He is also one of the 15 members of the National Political Commission of Fretilin which leads the work of the party between the Fretilin Central Committee meetings.

He was re-elected to a seat in parliament in the June 2007 parliamentary election as the ninth name on Fretilin's candidate list.[1]

Education and professional careerEdit

Da Silva studied agronomy at Eduardo Mondlane University, and worked at Marracuene state enterprise as the Chief Agronomist for the Mozambican government. He also attended the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics in India for short training courses in agriculture systems for arid and semi arid regions.

In Australia, Da Silva continued his studies in agronomy at the University of Sydney, where he completed a post-graduate diploma in Agronomy in 1987. In 1988 Da Silva was employed by the NSW Agricultural Department at the Trangie Research Agricultural Centre and from 1994 to 1997 worked at the Australian Cotton Research Institute in Narrabri.

In 1999, Da Silva returned to Timor-Leste. He worked as a World Bank consultant for agriculture and later as Asian Development Bank project manager for infrastructure before becoming Minister for Agriculture during the second United Nations transitional government. In May 2002, upon the restoration of independence of Timor Leste, Da Silva became the Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

In 2002, Da Silva completed a two-year post-graduate training course in management and leadership provided by the Asian Development Bank Institute in Tokyo, Japan.

Da Silva is a capable and respected administrator and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries is one of the success stories of an independent Timor Leste. The Ministry is regularly praised by international donors for its achievements. Under Da Silva, Timor Leste's rice production has increased every year except for in 2006 where the political crisis had a negative effect on the country's institutions and economy as a whole. Also, in Da Silva's time, Timor-Leste's rice import dependency has been reduced from two thirds to one third of domestic consumption.

Da Silva is fluent in English, Portuguese and Tetum.


  1. ^ "National Provisional Results from the 30 June 2007 Parliamentary Elections" Archived 10 August 2007 at the Wayback Machine, Comissão Nacional de Eleições Timor-Leste, 9 July 2007.
Political offices
Preceded by Prime Minister of East Timor
Succeeded by