Subject: Lusa: National Council Agenda Full Two Days Before Formal Dissolution

East Timor: National Council Agenda Full Two Days Before Formal Dissolution

12 Jul-21:43

The work agenda of East Timor`s National Council remained backlogged on Thursday, with more than a dozen regulations awaiting approval two days before the body is to be formally disbanded.

At least nine bills were scheduled for debate on Thursday and Friday, with four other draft regulations sent down to the Council (the territory`s transition legislature) over the past three days by the government cabinet.

Legislation awaiting approval includes important regulations on telecommunications, which if not approved will dealy by several months the anticipated international tender process, and on the labor law, military discipline, and land and property, among others.

Sources with the Council told Lusa Thursday that, despite members` best efforts, it would be practically impossible to consider all the regulations and that some should be passed on to the future constituent assembly, which will have limited legislative powers.

In a speech to the Council on Thursday, the head of East Timor`s UN transition administration (UNTAET) urged members to at least authorize regulations to be "temporarily" approved.

"We cannot modify the current monopoly situation without a base telecommunications regulation. I recognize that, unfortunately, I only submitted the legislative package 48 hours ago, but if it is not approved it will be at least four or five months before the constituent assembly can debate it", Sergio Vieira de Mello said.

Vieira de Mello was queried by the Council president, Manuel Carrascalao, about measures to compensate legislators for their "good services" and help them find alternate employment.

In response, the UNTAET chief anticipated a planned Saturday announcement, to the effect that he had decided to pay Council members their salaries through the end of July and for August as well, even though the chamber will be formally dissolved on Saturday.

During the Thursday session, the Timorese Labor Party (PTT) representative, Angela Freitas, criticized UNTAET and Vieira de Mello, questioning the legality of the decision to dissolve the Council.

Visibly irritated, the Brazilian UN diplomat recalled that the Council had approved last February a regulation stipulating that it would disband on July 15, the first day of campaigning for the August constituent assembly elections.

On Aug. 30, East Timorese voters will be asked to choose members of an assembly whose main duty will be to draw up the territory`s future national constitution.

JBC -Lusa

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