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East Timor assembly adopts constitutional articles on presidential office

East Timor assembly adopts constitutional articles on presidential office

Resuming work on the territory's first-ever constitution, the East Timor Constituent Assembly today passed five articles dealing with the status, election and appointment of the President of the Republic, the United Nations Transitional Authority (UNTAET) reported.

Among the articles approved today was one granting the President immunity while in exercise of his or her duties but also reserving Parliament's right to challenge that protection through an initiative in conformity with the Constitution.

Article 76 says, in part, that the President cannot be absent from the national territory without the authorization of the National Parliament or of its Standing Committee, if Parliament is in recess. The President's private visits not exceeding 15 days will not require authorization, although he or she should notify the National Parliament in advance of such visits.

The next article states that the President may resign from office by a message addressed to the National Parliament and in so doing, will be ineligible to stand for presidential elections immediately after resigning and in regular elections to be held four years later.

Article 78 states that in the case of death, resignation or permanent disability of the President, the Speaker of the Parliament will take over the functions of the Office on an interim basis. The election of a new President will take place within the subsequent 90 days, with the interim President being ineligible to run.

The final article passed today states that during any temporary impediment of the President, the Speaker of the National Parliament will take over the presidential functions. In case the Speaker is incapacitated, his or her Deputy will assume the responsibilities of Office.