Subject: LUSA: Constitution Debate, Approval Extended Until Jan. 25, 2002

13 Dec 01 21:25 East Timor: Constitution Debate, Approval Extended Until Jan. 25, 2002

Members of East Timor`s Constituent Assembly approved a motion Thursday extending the period for debate and approval of the future Constitution until Jan. 25, more than a month after the date originally scheduled.

Following slight delays in preparing the final draft, assembly members began approval of the Constitution`s 152 articles earlier in December. However, progress as been slow with only 18 articles so far being approved, hence Thursday`s extension motion which is being sent to UN chief administrator Sergio Viera de Mello.

Constituent Assembly speaker Lo-Olo has already limited debating time to speed the Constitutions`s approval. However, debate has been derailed over several controversies, the most recent being when a PSD assembly member, Lucia Lobato, compared Chief Minister Mari Alkatiri to Osamah bin Laden.

During debate on the extension motion, various assembly members noted that in spite of the intense workload of recent weeks, the 90 days set aside for debate and constitution approval were insufficient, given the complexity of the task.

Lo-Olo reminded the assembly that Viera de Mello intends to present the final text of the Constitution to the UN Security Council at the end of January.

CJB -Lusa-

see full text of Draft Constitution (large PDF files) English, Portuguese

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