CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY PASSES ANOTHER FIVE ARTICLES
The Constituent Assembly today passed a further five articles of East Timor’s draft Constitution relating to the functions of the Council of State and of the National Parliament.
All the articles were passed by significant majorities.
Article 86 stipulates that the Council of State shall advise the President on the dissolution of Parliament, the dismissal of the Government and on whether to declare war or make peace. The Council will also advise the President on other issues when requested.
Article 87 defines the Parliament as “the representative assembly of all East Timorese citizens and the highest legislative organ of the Democratic Republic of East Timor.”
Article 88 states that the Parliament will be comprised of a minimum of 52 and a maximum of 65 members. The members will be elected for a term of five years by universal, direct, equal, secret and personal suffrage.
The assembly also agreed to introduce a new section, Section 88a, which grants members parliamentary immunity. The removal of a member’s immunity will be in accordance with the Parliament’s internal regulations.
Article 89 states that it is incumbent on the Parliament to make laws concerning the country’s domestic and foreign policy and stipulates areas in which it is “exclusively incumbent” on Parliament to legislate. These areas include, among others, the country’s borders, territorial waters, national defense policy, tax policy and the budget system.
The Assembly has set itself the deadline of 25 January to pass the draft Constitution’s 151 articles.
AUSTRALIAN STATE DELEGATION ON NATIONAL PARK VISIT
A delegation representing the Australian State of New South Wales arrived in Dili today for a five-day visit to discuss with East Timor’s Government a project to create a National Park in East Timor.
The delegation, led by the New South Wales’ Minister for Environment, Terry Korn, hopes to help create a National Park by the time of East Timor’s independence in May. The visit follows related meetings between East Timor and the New South Wales Government in Australia in November of last year.
The delegation met today with Chief Minister Marí Alktiri, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation José Ramos-Horta, Minister for Agriculture and Fishery Estanislau Aleixo da Silva and James Batley, head of the Australian Mission in East Timor.
Among the issues discussed were the development of a framework agreement by which New South Wales will assist in establishing and managing a protected area and building the capacity of the staff who will work there.
The delegation is expected to meet officicals from the Land and Property Office, the Environment Office, and the Tourism Office, as well as pay visits to areas including Tutuala beach and Jaco island in Lospalos district, and Atauro island close to the capital, Dili.
UNTAET’s Transitional Administration two years ago passed a regulation on Protected Places that designates 19 protected wild areas in East Timor. The protected areas constitute islands, beaches, mountains, sanctuaries, and reserves.