SRSG LEAVES FOR SECURITY COUNCIL MEETING IN NEW YORK
SRSG Sergio Vieira de Mello left East Timor today for a trip that will include a 30 January meeting with the UN Security Council and visits to Oxford, England, and Brazil.
In New York, the SRSG and Senior Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation José Ramos-Horta will request the Security Council to extend UNTAET’s mandate – which currently expires on 31 January 2002 – to the scheduled date of East Timor’s independence, 20 May.
De Mello and Ramos-Horta will also brief the Council on developments in the country over the past six months and present plans for the transition to independence and the setting up of a UN successor mission.
The SRSG will also travel to Oxford to attend the 25-26 January Ditchley Foundation Conference titled, “The Role of the UN in the 21st Century: Peace-Keeping and the Security Council.”
De Mello will make a one-day official visit to Brasilia, Brazil, on 5 February. He will meet separately with President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, Minister of Foreign Affairs Celso Lafer, Minister of Defence Geraldo Quintão and members of the Brazilian Congress. He will also address the Rio Branco Institute on the experiences of UNTAET as a nation-building mission.
The SRSG is scheduled to return to Dili on 17 February.
ASSEMBLY PASSES FINANCIAL AND DEFENCE FRAMEWORKS
The Constituent Assembly completed debate on the National Defence and Security Section of East Timor’s first Constitution today and began work on articles dealing with how to revise the historic document in the future. The final articles of the Economic and Financial Section were passed Monday.
As of Wednesday afternoon, 141 articles of the 151-article document had been approved. All the articles are expected to be passed by the end of January. The final text is scheduled to be ready by 5 March, and a formal promulgation vote and ceremony is to be held on 9 March.
Articles passed since late Friday include:
Article 130, which states that East Timor’s economy will be based on a free market system that includes private, public and cooperative investment and production.
Article 131, which states that all the resources of the soil, sub-soil, territorial waters, the continental shelf and exclusive economic zones shall be owned by the State. It adds that resources shall be used for the benefit of the nation and should contribute to its financial reserves. Members added a paragraph that states the resources should be used in a sustainable, environmentally friendly manner.
Article 132, which calls on the State to promote national and foreign investment.
Article 133, which states that ownership and use of land shall be regulated by law.
Article 134, which states that the structure of the financial system shall be regulated by law, and encourage private savings.
Article 135, which calls for the creation of a National Central Bank, which will be jointly responsible with the definition and implementation of the nation’s monetary and financial policy. The Central Bank will have the exclusive right to issue the national currency.
Article 136, which calls on the State to establish a tax system aimed at meeting its financial requirements and ensuring the fair distribution of wealth.
Article 137, which states that a detailed State budget shall be prepared by the Government and approved by Parliament.
Article 138, which says the East Timor Defence Force (ETDF) is solely responsible for defending East Timor. The ETDF is to be non-partisan, obedient to the State and comprised only of East Timorese citizens.
Article 139, which says the nation’s police shall be strictly non-partisan and guarantee internal security. Police forces are responsible for preventing crime and respecting human rights.
Article 140, which creates the Superior Council for Defence and Security. The Council is defined as a consultative body of the President of the Republic on defence and security matters. It shall be led by the President and include a majority of civilian representatives and a minority from the military.
Article 141, which empowers members of Parliament and parliamentary groups to initiate constitutional revision. Parliament may revise the Constitution only after four years have passed since the last revision was published, unless four-fifths of the Parliament vote for immediate revision. The President of the Republic should consult with the Supreme Court of Justice and the Parliament before the revision process begins.
Article 142, which states that amendments to the Constitution require a two-thirds majority in Parliament. The President of the Republic shall not refuse to promulgate an amendment.
An entirely new article on copyright protection was added by the Assembly late Friday, but it has yet to be numbered or placed within the full text. All the articles were passed with substantial majorities.
Separately, the Independent Electoral Commission met today with the leaders of East Timor’s main political parties to brief them on the regulations and procedures for the registration of parties and nomination of candidates for the 14 April presidential election.