14 Oct 2004

Growing concern in Vanuatu at planned sweeping constitutional changes

9:09 pm on 14 October 2004

Planned radical changes to the Vanuatu constitution have been described as absolutely frightening by the local chapter of Transparency International.

The Government has called an extra-ordinary session of Parliament for next week to pass a measure it says is aimed at ending the ongoing political instability in Vanuatu.

It wants to expel from Parliament any independents or parties which swap sides.

It also plans to end constitutional referenda, extend the Parliamentary term and eliminate the threat of votes of no confidence.

Transparency International's Marie Noelle Ferrieux Patterson says the amendments would usher in a dictatorship.

She says there has been no public consultation and there is growing concern about the changes.

"here we are with a constitutional amendment that is put on the people, basically, with no notice, no possibility to discuss, and it is supposed to be voted on in Parliament on Tuesday, so it is absolutely frightening."