28 Apr 2004

Tuvalu presses on with referendum plans

10:26 am on 28 April 2004

The government in Tuvalu is pressing ahead with plans for a referendum, that could see it cut a link with its former colonial ruler.

Officials are touring the outer islands to canvass the views of citizens on what kind of state they want.

Tuvalu has retained the British queen as head of state since acheiving independence 25 years ago.

An amendment to the constitution that would make the result of a referendum on a republic binding, has cleared its first hurdle in parliament.

However the prime minister of Tuvalu, Saufatu Sopoaga, says he's not sure he can get parliament's support for the final bill.

"As I said, I'm not sure... the support. The people have to decide... in this bill... we are throwing back the power to the people to decide."

It's understood a referendum could take place within a year.