Vanuatu political parties discuss reform
Vanuatu political parties leaders are meeting to discuss political reforms ahead of a more public series of workshops next week.
Vanuatu political parties leaders are meeting on Wednesday to discuss political reforms before a series of public workshops next week.
For some time Vanuatu has been talking about changes to make the political system more stable, but the Prime Minister, Joe Natuman, who has faced a series of no confidence motions, wants reform now as a matter of priority.
His spokesperson, Kiery Manassah, told Don Wiseman discussion will focus on proposed controls on political party membership based on the experiences of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands.
KIERY MANASSAH: There have been some conversations from people who are just probably trying to get some legislation in place, register the political parties, get them properly organised, probably something along the lines of what we have done where before you form a political party you have to have a certain amount of support from the voters. Show that you have the support and then you register the party. Something along those lines, looking at the experience of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands. Solomon Islands is a bit different - there is not a strong emphasis on political parties. Here the prime minister is keen to strengthen political parties.
DON WISEMAN: One of the things that has happened in Papua New Guinea that has got some people upset is that it has got too stable. Once a government is in it is almost impossible for it to be removed. It works like a magnet - everyone attaches themselves to the government.
KM: That's the thing. The current leader of the government in Vanuatu, Joe Natuman, is very familiar with what is happening in Papua New Guinea. He doesn't think it's proper to entrench a government that is corrupt. So giving a grace period (when votes of no confidence cannot be held) as they have in Papua New Guinea is probably too much but there will be some kind of limit on how governments can be changed but I don't think it will follow the same path that PNG has gone into.
DW: One of the issues for Mr Natuman in driving this is that he himself is someone who has faced a lot of threats. He is not in the most impartial position is he, to be initiating this sort of dialogue.?
KM: Yes you can say that - that he has faced threats but I think he has the main groupings that would want to see change in the legislation and probably the constitution, and also this is not [just] a process that he has championed. I mean he is following up on the process that was started a few years ago by other leaders and so it would be in the interests of all the political party presidents to have a say and think it through and see what is best for the country.
DW: So he is bringing together the party presidents and next week there is this workshop that is being organised by the Commonwealth Secretariat. Who is going to go to that?
KM: Next week's workshop is going to be open to all the people who have an interest in the political affairs of the country, and that would include civil society, the NGOs and everybody else. And we hope that that is going to generate a lot of discussion and map out a way forward to address the political instability issues that we have been having.
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