Dili, 8 January 2002

CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY PASSES SEVEN FURTHER ARTICLES

The Constituent Assembly today passed a further seven articles of East Timorís 151-article draft Constitution.

The articles were all passed with significant majorities and include the following:

Article 90 covers the different areas in which Parliament may authorize the Government to legislate. These areas include the definition of crimes, sentences and security measures; general public service rules and regulations; and means and ways of expropriation, nationalization and privatization.

Article 91 empowers members of Parliament, parliamentary groups and the Government to initiate laws and states that bills and draft legislation that have been rejected may not be re-introduced in the same legislative session and that draft legislation initiated by the Government will lapse if the Government is dismissed.

Article 93 states the legislative term of Parliament will comprise five years, and Article 94 stipulates that the Parliament shall not be dissolved during the six months immediately following its election, nor in the last six months of the President of the Republicís term of office, nor during a state of siege or emergency.

Article 96 establishes a standing committee that will sit when the Parliament is dissolved or in recess. This committee will be presided over by the Speaker and shall comprise the Deputy Speakers and members designated by the political parties represented in Parliament, in accordance with their respective representation. The Standing Committee will, among other things, monitor the activities of the Government and the Public Administration, take steps to convene Parliament when necessary, and authorize the declaration of a state of emergency.

COUNCIL OF MINISTERS DISCUSSES TREATIES AND CONVENTIONS

East Timorís Council of Ministers this morning held its first meeting of the new year to discuss a range of treaties and international conventions to be ratified by the state upon its independence in May.

The Council authorized the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Justice, in conjunction with other entities, to spearhead the process of preparing to present the Council a list of treaties and international conventions to be ratified by the future East Timorese state.

The Council also discussed initiatives to develop the Tetum language and to make the enclave of Oecussi a special administrative region.