24 May 2004

Palau to vote on constitutional amendments

12:37 pm on 24 May 2004

People in Palau will vote on five proposed constitutional amendments in November, including one to allow Palauans to hold dual citizenship.

The referendums follow failed attempts by the President, Tommy Remengesau, to reach an agreement with the National Congress to make several amendments through acts of law.

Congress instead passed a resolution that will ask voters in November whether they want to hold a Constitutional Convention to consider a host of changes to the Constitution.

The President's proposed changes would offer Palauans in the United States the option of dual citizenship.

He also wants to combine the president and vice president on one election ticket and reduce Congress to one house from two.

The Senate President, Seit Andres, says there are other constitutional changes being considered, such as establishing a traditional court and giving the Palauan language preference in legal interpretations.

Currently, when laws written English and Palauans conflict, the English version prevails.

But Mr Remengesau has described constitutional conventions as costly, time-consuming and divisive.