Subject: LUSA: President Gusmão says he could veto immigration bill

07-07-2003 13:25:00. Notícia nº SIR-5209368 Temas: new destaque1

East Timor: President Gusmão says he could veto immigration bill

Dili, July 7 (Lusa) - President Xanana Gusmão said Monday that he could veto a controversial immigration bill, which he refused to promulgate after East Timor`s parliament approved the legislation without altering contentious sections affecting the rights of foreigners.

Gusmão said he based his decision not to promulgate the new legislation Monday on the Timor's Court of Appeal ruling July 1 that parts of the bill, which limits political and economic rights for foreign citizens in Timor, were "unconstitutional". The bill is firmly backed by the ruling Fretilin party, whose leader, Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, described the rejection of the bill as "unprofessional", saying the court had been subject to "outside pressure".

The Dili parliament, in which Frelitin holds 55 out of 88, seats approved the draft bill last week.

Several of Timor's smaller opposition parties voted against the proposals and the new laws have also come under fire from the nation`s most prominent legal watchdog for violating Dili`s international judicial accords.

Gusmão told Lusa he supported the independence of state institutions "and all now depends on parliament", adding he hoped debate on the bill would be "of the highest quality" and that the articles relating to foreigners` rights are modified. "We are all learning. We must accept that these situations arise to prove that the Constitution is above everything and everybody".

The Dili parliament holds further debate on the contentious bill this week. Under the Timorese constitution, a minimum of 20 percent of MPs can request an appeal court pronouncement on the proposed law`s legality.

ASP/CJB -Lusa-

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