Subject: UN: E Timor votes against consultative process leading to constitution

UN Newservice

Source: UN Department of Public Information (DPI) Date: 27 Mar 2001

East Timor votes against consultative process leading to constitution

The National Council of East Timor today voted against setting up a mechanism that would have allowed the East Timorese people to provide input to the drafting of their territory's first constitution, according to the United Nations mission there, which had supported the idea of national consultation.

"[We were] supportive of a formal consultation process, and will now look at other options," officials from the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) said in a statement issued today in Dili.

Introduced by the Standing Committee on Political Affairs, the draft regulation would have led to the establishment of national and district constitutional commissions to consult the people of East Timor at district and sub-district levels and to provide their input to the Constitution Assembly to be democratically elected on 30 August.

The regulation was defeated with five votes in favor, seven against and eight abstentions.

Aniceto Guterres, National Council representative for non-governmental organizations (NGOs), presented the motion, noting the broad support of NGOs for the proposal and its implementation. According to UNTAET, the proposal was said to have the support of civil society in general and was backed by members of the Committee on Political Affairs, among them CNRT and National Council President Xanana Gusmão.

Meanwhile almost 35,000 East Timorese have been registered in the territory's 13 districts as of yesterday, 26 March, ten days after the process started, UNTAET said.

The total does not include Viqueque district, where registration started only this week after the violence of 12 March. In addition, some registration sites have been unable to open, in part due to accessibility problems caused by landslides.

UNTAET is also carrying out a national public information campaign on civil registration, featuring posters, leaflets, radio and TV interviews and a road show that started in Dili on 25 March.

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