Subject: Lusa: Xanana Gusmao to Head National Council

East Timor: Xanana Gusmao to Head National Council 20 Oct-18:56

East Timorese independence leader Xanana Gusmao will likely be chosen Monday to be chairman of the new East Timor National Council, a body with a function similar to that of a parliament.

Gusmao, who is president of the National Council of Timorese Resistance (CNRT), declined Friday to comment on the Council chairmanship, recalling that it was an elected position. "Let the Council elect the chairman," he said.

The list of members of the Council was officially announced Friday by East Timor's chief UN transition administrator, Sergio Vieira de Mello. The announcement followed the last meeting of the outgoing legislative body, the National Consultative Council, which met with the sole purpose of approving the addition of three members, raising the number of members of the National Council from 33 to 36.

East Timorese sources told Lusa the enlargement was due to presure [sic] from Gusmao, who wanted to be included in the body that henceforth will review all legislation recommended by the transition cabinet`s nine 'ministers' (nine East Timorese and four foreigners) for subsequent approval by Vieira de Mello.

The inclusion of Gusmao in the Council also aims to enhance its role, particularly in the wake of suggestions that the new body would be overshadowed by the transition cabinet.

The only member of the CNRT presidency who will not hold a position in one of the new administrative structures is Mario Carrascalao, who is president of the recently-formed Social Democratic Party.

The two vice presidents of the CNRT, East Timor's umbrella leadership body, are Mario Carrascalao and Jose Ramos Horta, who on Thursday took office as foreign minister of the transition government.

Members of the new Council have been drawn from 13 political parties, not the 10 originally planned. A like number of members represent East Timor's 13 districts, seven represent civil society and three the territory's religious communities.

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