Subject: AP: East Timor Sets Up Commissions To Draft New Constitution

see also: Constitutional Commission reports

East Timor Sets Up Commissions To Draft New Constitution

DILI, East Timor , Oct. 10 (AP) -- In its first concrete step aimed at drafting a new constitution, East Timor's national assembly Wednesday set up four commissions tasked with preparing different sections of the national charter.

The assembly has until mid-December to pass the nascent nation's first constitution so that it can be in place before the U.N.-administered territory achieves independence next year.

East Timorese legislator Antonio Ximenes said the 88-member assembly had divided the document into four main themes, including economics and finance, human rights, defense and security, and politics.

Each committee will work on its own section of the constitution before submitting them to parliament for final review, he said.

East Timor's 12 political parties have each prepared their own drafts, and will be pushing for them to be used, Ximenes said.

The national assembly, which was elected on Aug. 30 and convened on Sept. 15, has replaced an earlier transitional body consisting of U.N. officials and representatives hand-picked by U.N. administrator Sergio Vieira de Mello.

Presidential elections are expected to be held within the first few months of next year, following the adoption of the new constitution.

In 1999, the territory voted overwhelmingly for independence in a U.N.-sponsored referendum. A violent rampage by the Indonesian military and local militiamen killed hundreds and left much of the territory in ruins.

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