2 Mar 2010

Nauru's acting president says defeat of a referendum not unexpected

11:55 am on 2 March 2010

Nauru's acting president says the defeat of a referendum on constitutional reform is disappointing but not entirely unexpected.

Nearly 3,000 votes out of almost 4,400 cast opposed the referendum, which contained 34 constitutional changes.

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.

Nauru's acting president, Dr Kieran Keke says it was always going to be difficult to get the required two thirds majority, when opposition MPs created uncertainty about minor changes.

"Unfortunately the way our constitution is written currently it requires that proposed amendments be put as one question and that was whether the bill as a whole was accepted or not. We know where there was uncertainty or opposition to one or two particular amendments, the vote tended to be no, although they may have supported the majority of the amendments."

Dr Keke says the constitutional review committee will meet today to discuss its next step.