25 Oct 2004

Public in Vanuatu say constitutional amendments mostly for the benefit of MPs

4:29 pm on 25 October 2004

There's concern in Vanuatu over controversial amendments to the constitution passed last week by Parliament.

They include an increase in the number of ministries, a one year grace period prior to and after an election when votes of no confidence can't be brought against the government, and plans for an increase in the salaries of MPs.

As well the MPs have agreed to expel from Parliament those members who change allegiance within the term.

Henry Vira, the spokesman for VANGO, the umbrella group for local NGOs, says they are polling their members for a formal reaction, but he says the public disappointment is plain.

"it is understand because as one can see very clearly, the whole proceeding of last week was basically aimed at the personal benefit of Members of Parliament. I think the leader of the Government was quite worried about the issue of stability and I think they have gone some way to addressing that, but overall most of the issues addressed or passed last week were mostly to do with the personal benefit of members of Parliament."