21 Oct 2004

Vanuatu government confident of passing constitutional amendments

8:39 pm on 21 October 2004

The Vanuatu Government says it expects its constitutional amendments to be passed unanimously on Friday.

Its spokesman, Kal Moli, says the amendments now include a 17-member Cabinet - up from 13, a five-year term instead of four, and a one year grace period before and after an election when votes of no confidence cannot be brought.

Mr Moli says, as well, MPs who switch allegiance after a set period - likely to be between six months or a year - will be expelled from Parliament.

He says the changes will be submitted to the public in a referendum but he could not say whether such a vote would be binding.

The Government says the changes are aimed at bringing political stability but NGOs presented a petition to the Prime Minister this week calling for more public consideration of the changes.

They say the amendments undermine democracy in Vanuatu.

It is not clear if the measures will pass.

The opposition was not available for comment.