13 Jan 2016

Former Vanuatu PM warns on dual citizenship policy

8:11 am on 13 January 2016

A former Vanuatu prime minister and candidate for next week's election has warned against the country's policy of dual citizenship.

Former Vanuatu Prime Minister Barak Sope.

Former Vanuatu Prime Minister Barak Sope. Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

Barak Sope, who led the country from 1999 to 2001, says Vanuatu risks being run by foreigners under its current policy.

Five naturalised citizens are contesting the snap election, out of over 200 candidates.

But Mr Sope says the law must be changed, and it was only prompted by politicians looking at ways of making money.

He says if enough foreigners take up the offer, they could soon have a majority of citizens and control the country.

"It's because of this stupid decision passed in parliament, if there were one million Frenchmen, or one million Chinese or one million British, that would decide to take up dual citizenship, that's over the population of Vanuatu. How can you control that? Within ten years, if this continues, parliament of Vanuatu would be run by Chinese."

Mr Sope says he vows to change the dual passport law if elected.

Mr Sope wants to 'win back trust'

Mr Sope says he is running for parliament again to bring an end to corruption.

He says politicians in recent years have spent most of their time in Port Vila destabilising the parliament by changing the government too often.

He says it's unprecedented to have 14 MPs in prison and MPs need to win back the trust of the people.

"What we've seen that has happened last year, we've never seen before. You know how can almost half of parliament be in prison? So that also destroyed the parliament in the eyes of the people here, the mistrust of the politicians has increased."

Mr Sope was convicted and sentenced to three years in prison in 2002 for forgery.

Four other former prime ministers are among eligible candidates to contest the snap election next week, including Sato Kilman, Ham Lini, Maxime Carlot Korman, and Joe Natuman.

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