Subject: LUSA: Assembly Postpones Deadline for Drafting Independence Constitution

18 Jan 02 12:39 East Timor: Assembly Postpones Deadline for Drafting Independence Constitution

East Timor´s constituent assembly voted Friday to prolong debate on the territory´s first constitution, possibly by more than four weeks to Feb. 28.

A final decision on a new deadline was expected after a specialized committee meets later Friday, assembly sources told Lusa.

The most recent deadline for approving the constitution, which will take effect at independence on May 20, had been set for Jan. 25, after two previous postponements.

A little more than 20 articles in the 150-article constitution still face debate and approval in the 88-member constituent assembly that was chosen in East Timor´s first free elections in August.

The latest postponement comes only days after a US congressional team wrote the Dili assembly suggesting it allow more time for drafting the constitution, noting the assembly had been under "strong pressure" from its timetable.

SAS -Lusa-

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