9 Aug 2002

Tuvalu begins process towards a referendum on whether to become republic

11:21 am on 9 August 2002

Tuvalu's new prime minister says steps are being taken towards a referendum on whether Tuvalu should become a republic.

Saufatu Sopoaga says radio programmes will go to air ahead of nationwide consultations in September and the referendum scheduled for the end of the year.

Mr Sopoaga says such a vote is necessary because of political instability which has seen four prime minister in the last four years.

He says as a republic, Tuvalu would be assured of stability because the people and not parliament would choose the leader.

"The prime minister in our current system is being elected by members of parliament. If there is a change to giving this authority to the whole country to elect the leader there could be control. With this exercise there is no intention to go out of the Commonwealth."

The Tuvalu Prime Minister, Saufatu Sopoaga