16 Jun 2016

Vanuatu PM introduces major constitutional changes bill

7:54 pm on 16 June 2016
A statue at the entrance to Vanuatu's parliament in the capital, Port Vila.

Vanuatu's parliament. Photo: RNZI / Jamie Tahana

A raft of major constitutional amendments has been introduced in a special sitting of Vanuatu's parliament on Thursday.

The prime minister Charlot Salwai introduced a bill covering 25 changes to the constitution such as the creation of reserved parliament seats for women, and rules governing the life of a parliament.

It also includes provisions for the registration of political parties, for parliament's dissolution and caretaker governments, as well as rules around no-confidence votes.

The opposition has been critical of the changes with its leader, Ishmael Kalsakau, saying Kastom chiefs and churches should discuss the issues first.

But the government says the amendments are critical if Vanuatu is to address long-running political instability.

MPs have agreed the amendments should be negotiated at length in a cross-party parliamentary committee.

From there, the major amendments would then have to go to a public referendum.

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