1 Mar 2010

Nauru leaders disappointed with referendum rebuff

2:15 pm on 1 March 2010

The acting president of Nauru says it's disappointing people have rejected a referendum to introduce constitutional reforms they had proposed during public consultation.

Nearly 3,000 votes out of almost 4,400 cast opposed the referendum.

It sought to improve the stability of government through amendments including the popular election of the president, clarifying the roles of the president and government, and making public institutions more accountable.

The acting president, Dr Kieren Keke, says the public had called for the changes, but may have been deterred by doubts raised about a few of them.

"The most disappointing thing in the result about the referendum in my mind is that all these amendments were passed by all members of parliament attending late last year. But a handful of opposition members of parliament actively went on a no campaign during the last week and were generating fear and uncertainty on a few things."

Dr Keke says the constitutional review committee will meet tomorrow to discuss whether another referendum could be held.