PEACEKEEPERS, TNI AGREE ON BORDER DEMARCATION PLAN
UNTAET’s Peacekeeping Force (PKF) and the Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) have agreed on plans to survey and demarcate the border between East Timor and Indonesian West Timor, PKF officials said today.
The agreement on Border Demarcation Reconnaissance was made at a Monday meeting of the Tactical Coordination Working Group in Atambua, West Timor. Dates for the survey are expected to be finalised within a few days.
The working group, which includes PKF and TNI representatives, also discussed the establishment of a new Border Control Service post and ways to improve the repatriation of East Timorese refugees currently living in camps across the border.
In December, a special technical meeting on border demarcation took place in Jakarta. United Nations and Indonesian delegations agreed that a reconnaissance of the border should be undertaken in February.
The reconnaissance survey will study the riverbanks, river islands, customary usage and technical issues. This will be followed by a number of technical steps, preliminary to the resolution of the location of the borderline.
ASSEMBLY DELAYS PASSAGE OF CONSTITUTION UNTIL 16 MARCH
The Constituent Assembly today approved a revised schedule on the promulgation of East Timor’s first Constitution, pushing the final vote and signing ceremony to 16 March.
After an hour-long debate on how much time was needed for a nationwide public review of the draft Constitution, members voted overwhelming for the one-week delay – 62 in favour, 2 against, 4 abstentions, and 20 absent.
An initial proposal for a two-week delay was rejected by majority party FRETILIN over concerns that it would interfere with the 15 March-12 April presidential election campaign. Minority parties UDT and PSD argued that more time was needed for the public review process.
The revised schedule reflects the longer-than-expected time needed to pass individual Constitutional articles, compile them together and translate the full, Portuguese-language text into Tetum, the lingua franca of East Timor.
The Tetum-language text will be distributed on 20 February. Assembly members will then divide into groups and fan out into the countryside on 23 February in search of public feedback. Each group must draft a report to be presented to the full Assembly for debate ahead of the final vote.
The revised schedule is as follows:
GERMAN PARLIAMENTARY DELEGATION VISITS EAST TIMOR
DATE EVENT 9 February Approval of the global text. 13-14 February Constituent Assembly members and secretariat prepare for the public information process. 20-21 February Distribution of draft Constitutions to districts by the CA secretariat. 23 February-2 March Explanation of the Constitution to the civil society. The 88 CA members will divide into 13 multi-partisan groups and visit the districts and sub-districts to explain the Constitution and to listen to the views to the public. 4-5 March Preparing reports. Each group will compile a report on any concerns or suggestions public might have. 6 March Presentation of the group reports to the plenary. 7-9 March Study, analysis and synthesis of reports. The reports will be discussed in plenary and compiled into a single document. 11-12 March Appraisal of the elaborated report. Members will study the final report and discuss its content. 13 March Finalisation of the text and final appraisal. Members will study and debate the Constitution in preparation for final approval. 14-15 March Preparation of the formal session. 16 March Final approval of the Constitution and signing ceremony.
A visiting delegation of German lawmakers met today with Acting SRSG Dennis McNamara, Constituent Assembly Deputy Speaker Arlindo Marçal and East Timor’s independence leader Xanana Gusmão.
The eight-member delegation – led by Dietmar Kansy, Chairman of the ASEAN Friendship Group of the German Bundestag – arrived earlier today for a three-day visit. Tomorrow the group is expected to travel to Viqueque district, and visit an office of the Timor-Lorosa’e-German Cooperation Project.
On Thursday, 14 February, the delegation is scheduled to meet with Chief Minister Marí Alkatiri and Senior Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation José Ramos-Horta.
FIREFIGHTERS RECEIVE TRAINING AGAINST CHEMICAL AGENTS
East Timorese firefighters and security staff began a training course today on how to protect against a potential chemical attack.
A visiting specialist from the Fire & Emergency Services Authority of Western Australia (FESA) is teaching the five-day course – titled: “Protection Against Chemical Agents” – with the support of Portuguese firefighters working in East Timor.
The course was conceived in the wake of the anthrax letter attacks in the United States to provide East Timor’s emergency services with proper training against a similar terrorist threat.
Two local staff from the UNTAET Security Unit and eight East Timorese firefighters are participating in the course.
COUNCIL OF MINISTERS ADDS PROGRAM TO NATIONAL PLANNING
East Timor’s Council of Ministers agreed today to incorporate a capacity development program for governance and management of the public administration into the National Development Planning Commission.
The new program aims to strengthen basic capacities in all sectors of East Timor’s public administration during the current transition from UN-administered governance to independence.
The decision followed a presentation by Maria Braz, from the Capacity Development Coordination Unit of the National Development Planning Commission.
The Council of Ministers also asked the planning commission’s working group on human development to draft a proposal for a new capacity development strategy.