19 Oct 2004

Vanuatu Government moderates its planned constitutional changes

8:19 pm on 19 October 2004

The Opposition in Vanuatu and VANGO, the local umbrella group for NGOs, have forced some concessions on controversial constitutional changes being sought by the Government.

Vango yesterday presented a petition to the Prime Minister calling for the amendments to be properly explained to the public, and put to a referendum as required by the constitution.

The Government spokesman, Kal Moli, says the planned grace periods of two years either side of the election before votes of no confidence can take place have now been cut to one year.

And he says the public referendum on constitutional issues will stay.

Deputy Opposition Leader, Edward Natapei, says there is still debate over to extending the Parliamentary term to five years while they are against the Prime Minister having the sole right to expel MPs who cross the floor.

"IN:...... what the Opposition did was to request amendments so that it is not the Prime Minister but leaders of political parties who can report or bring up a case against a member who is not giving his support to that particular party, and therefore have him vacate his seat"

Parliament will sit again tomorrow (wed) and Kal Moli says they expect to pass the amendments then.