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27 August 2008

PM Gusmao foreshadows constitutional reform in East Timor

In an interview with AFP in Sydney, Australia, this week, East Timorese Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao has foreshadowed constitutional reform and strong anti-corruption laws in the grief-stricken nation.

Gusmao also admitted that, while he believed that East Timor was becoming a non-violent, tolerant society and hoped it would have a bright, democratic future, corruption, weaknesses in the legal system and the unrest of the past few years had proved major hurdles.

In relation to the disintegration of law and order in 2006 when fractures within the military and between the police and the military erupted into violence that peaked with the massacre of 9 police officers in front of the Justice Ministery in Dili, Gusmao said that he did not believe that further problems would emerge with the East Timor Defence Force.

"We are making progress in the reform process. The government's priority this year was legal reform and although there may be a need for minor changes to the constitution in due course, he did not foresee sweeping changes.

"It needs to be revised, but not major changes," he said.

Amendments to the penal code had also been implemented.

Highlighting corruption as a particular problem, Gusmao said a new anti-corruption law would be passed this year and a new anti-corruption commission established. "We had a very bad level of corruption," he said. Read the full report...

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