Subject: AP: E. Timor Constituent Assembly To Be 1st Natl Parliament

Received from Joyo Indonesian News

East Timor Constituent Assembly To Be 1st Natl Parliament

DILI, East Timor, Jan. 31 (AP) -- East Timor's constituent assembly voted Thursday to transform itself into the nation's first parliament after the country becomes independent May 20.

The measure to transform the provisional assembly into a permanent Legislature was passed with 65 votes.

The body was elected in a national ballot in August, and was tasked with drafting the nation's first constitution.

East Timor has been under U.N. administration since a referendum in August 1999 on independence from Indonesia . The ballot was followed by a campaign of violence by Indonesian troops during which hundreds of people were killed and most of the country's infrastructure destroyed.

The U.N. mandate is scheduled to end May 20, when East Timor will become the world's newest nation.

Over the past few weeks, many of the nation's leaders have voiced concern over the transformation of the constituent assembly into the national parliament.

Popular resistance leader Xanana Gusmao and Nobel Peace prize laureate Bishop Carlos Belo urged that new parliamentary elections be held, saying the majority of voters didn't fully understand what they were opting for in August.

But East Timor's main independence party Fretelin rejected that claim and supported the transformation of the constituent assembly. The party holds 55 of 88 seats in the Assembly.

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