Vanuatu Government introduces political reform through constitutional changes
Vanuatu- The Vanuatu government will be tabling about 10 constitutional amendments in the next session of Parliament.
This is in line with its political reform policy that aims to limit any chances for political instability.
Explanatory notes sent to all parliamentarians say the purpose of the constitutional amendments are to enable regulation of political parties and safeguard political stability and integrity of leaders in Vanuatu. restrict]
Bill for the constitution amendment (seven) Item 2 is to amend sub-article 4(3) to remove/delete the word “freely” which aims to allow Parliament to regulate matters in relation to the formation of political Parties. This section currently reads: “Political Parties may be formed freely and may contest elections. They shall respect the constitution and the principles of democracy”.
The amendments will also provide for regulation of the involvement of naturalised citizens in politics and enable regulation of cost effective election procedures.
The government plans to make changes to the procedure for the appointment of the Speaker of Parliament; extend the life of parliament from 4 to 5 years, regulate the powers of Parliament to dissolve parliament which will effectively provide for the parliament to dissolve parliament instead of the president; regulate the occurrences of motions of no-confidence against the prime minister.
With regard to the issue of motions, the proposed amendments will allow an elected government a grace period of 12 months before it could face a motion of no confidence, and also to prevent any motions within 12 months before the end of parliament.
The constitutional changes will also include that to enable regulations of reserve seats for women. This issue of reserve seats has become a controversial issue of discussion on radio talk-back-shows and the social media since the Minister for Justice and Social Services, Ronald Warsal announced government plans for this particular amendment as agreed upon by the Council of Ministers.
Other constitutional amendments are to provide for the independence of the Office of the Auditor General; regulate the powers of the Prime Minister and a Minister after the dissolution of Parliament and before a general election and to expand the definition of a leader to include leaders in private sectors working with the government.
The amendments derived from experiences of Vanuatu’s political turmoil since independence, particularly but most particularly the recent political havocs that escalated from the jailing of 14 members of parliament over bribery and corruption charges.
The proposed constitutional changes were first uploaded onto social media by the Unions Group, ‘U-Block’.
The amendments will be the first major changes ever since independence that would now set a new platform in Vanuatu’s political arena.
Currently, the Salwai-led coalition is enjoying a comfortable majority of 38 MPs that is likely to bulldoze the sweeping changes through, with less or no difficulty.
Meanwhile, The U-Block which is headed by the Port Vila MP and Unionist, Ephraim Kalsakau has made a call on social media for members of the public not to remain silent but to seek clarification from their MPs, in fear that the changes could remove the rights of independent MPs and smaller parties from contesting national election. SOURCE: VANUATU LOOP/PACNEWS [/restrict]