East Timor, Government
East Timorís constitution took effect when the territory officially became independent in May 2002. It provides for a democratic republic with a president as head of state and a prime minister as head of government. All citizens aged 18 and older have the right to vote.
The president of East Timor is directly elected to serve a five-year term and may serve no more than two consecutive terms. Under the constitution, the president is the symbol of East Timorese independence and the guarantor of the smooth functioning of the republicís democratic institutions. The president is the supreme commander of the defense forces.
The prime minister oversees the day-to-day functioning of government and chairs the Council of Ministers. The prime minister is designated by the political party or alliance of political parties with a majority in the national legislature and formally appointed by the president. Ministers are also appointed by the president, following the recommendations of the prime minister.
The legislature of East Timor is the unicameral (single-chamber) National Parliament. Members of the National Parliament are directly elected by universal suffrage to serve five-year terms of office. The first National Parliament is comprised of the 88 directly elected members of the constituent assembly, a transitional body that drafted the constitution of East Timor. The assembly automatically became the republicís first legislature upon independence in May 2002 and as such is to serve a full term. Thereafter, the constitution provides for a National Parliament of at least 52 and no more than 65 members.
The Supreme Court of Justice is the highest court of law in East Timor. Decisions of the Supreme Court are not subject to appeal. The Supreme Court is headed by a president, who is appointed by the president of the republic to a four-year term. The National Parliament elects one member of the Supreme Court, while all other members are designated by the Superior Council for the Judiciary. This council is the organ of management and discipline of judges and is responsible for judiciary appointments, transfers, and promotions.