Subject: E.Timor dissolves council before campaigns start

E.Timor dissolves council before campaigns start

DILI, July 14 (Reuters) - East Timor's defacto parliament, the National Council, was dissolved on Saturday, one day before the start of political campaigning for a new 88-seat Constituent Assembly, taking the territory closer to full independence.

The United Nations Transitional Authority in East Timor (UNTAET) created the 36-seat council in October last year following requests by the territory's independence leaders for a greater say in the running of their affairs.

On August 30, East Timorese will select a Constituent Assembly charged with drafting a constitution for the impoverished nation-in-waiting. Some 16 political parties registered to take part in the election.

"The National Council, in spite of having been created as an interim body, played an important role in decision making for the East Timorese people," council Speaker Manuel Carrascalao said.

Carrascalao criticised the U.N. for not having moved sooner to establish an interim parliament in East Timor, which has been under U.N. administration since voting in August 1999 to end 23 years of Indonesian rule.

The U.N. has said it expected the tiny half-island to gain full independence within the first few months of 2002.

The head of UNTAET, Sergio Vieira de Mello, applauded the council's legislative record as being among the best of any parliament in the world.

"In the past nine months (it) considered 28 pieces of legislation, twelve in the past four weeks. Surely this is a record for any parliament," he said.

Among the issues the National Council considered were the Timor Gap deal to split oil and gas revenues from the Timor Sea with Australia and legislation on the nascent East Timor Defence Force.

De Mello said although an appointed body, the National Council had been broadly representative of East Timorese society.

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