East Timor - Government

A parliamentary system of government with a largely ceremonial president was established as a result of elections held 30 August 2001 for a Constituent Assembly to draft a constitution for East Timor. On 22 March 2002, the Constituent Assembly approved East Timor's constitution. The constitution was modeled largely on that of Portugal, although the German and US constitutions were consulted as well. The constitution bans the death penalty and provides for fundamental political rights and civil liberties, including due process rights. In the elections for the Constituent Assembly, held 30 August 2001, Fretilin took 55 of the 88 seats. Twenty-three of the candidates, or 27% of the total, were women.

The Constituent Assembly was transformed into the National Legislative Assembly, or National Parliament, on 20 May 2002. The unicameral National Legislative Assembly is composed of a minimum of 52 and a maximum of 65 members, serving five-year terms. Thirteen of the members are district representatives, corresponding to East Timor's 13 districts. For its first term of office, the National Parliament was comprised of 88 members on an exceptional basis.

The first presidential elections were held 14 April 2002. José Alexandre "Xanana" Gusmão defeated Xavier do Amaral for the presidency, winning with 82.7% of the votes cast. Mari Alkatiri was chosen as East Timor's first prime minister. A Council of State advises the president. It is composed of former presidents who were not removed from office, the prime minister, the speaker of parliament, five members elected from parliament, and five members appointed by the president. A Council of Ministers is comprised of the prime minister, any deputy prime ministers, and the ministers of state.

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