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East Timor assembly approves constitutional articles on powers of parliament

East Timor assembly approves constitutional articles on powers of parliament

Continuing its work on the nascent country's first-ever constitution, the East Timor Constituent Assembly today passed seven more articles dealing with the powers of the parliament, the United Nations Transitional Administration (UNTAET) reported.

The articles were all passed with significant majorities. The first covered the different areas in which parliament may authorize the government to legislate, including the definition of crimes, sentences and security measures; general public service rules and regulations; and ways and means of expropriation, nationalization and privatization.

Another article empowers members of parliament, parliamentary groups and the government to initiate laws and states that bills and draft legislation that have been rejected may not be re-introduced in the same legislative session and that draft legislation initiated by the government will lapse if the government is dismissed.

Article 93 states the legislative term of parliament will comprise five years, and Article 94 stipulates that the legislative body cannot be dissolved during the six months immediately following its election, in the last six months of the President's term of office, or during a state of siege or emergency.

The final article passed today establishes a standing committee that will sit when the parliament is dissolved or in recess, to be presided over by the Speaker and comprising the Deputy Speakers and members designated by the political parties represented in parliament, in accordance with their respective representation. The standing committee will, among other things, monitor the activities of the government and the Public Administration, take steps to convene parliament when necessary, and authorize the declaration of a state of emergency.