Vila Times

‘Two -thirds vote, referendum required for change in Vanuatu Constitution

‘Two -thirds vote, referendum required for change in Vanuatu Constitution
‘Two -thirds vote, referendum required for change in Vanuatu Constitution
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Amending the Vanuatu Constitution will require a two-thirds vote from Members of Parliament (MPs), as well as a national referendum.
Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade, Ralph Regenvanu made the remark Tuesday at a gathering of over 200 people which included men, women, youth, children and representatives from vulnerable groups such as the Vanuatu Society for People with Disability, at the Parliament compound.
The women marched from Independence Park to Parliament House and presented a petition to the Speaker of Parliament, Simeon Seule and Minister Regenvanu, calling on the MPs to pass a Bill on Temporary Special Measures (TSM) for quotas or reserve seats for 50% Women in Parliament in 2020 and beyond in November 2019 Ordinary Session of Parliament.
Their message was, “It’s time to get the balance right, for all citizens of Vanuatu. The solution is clear: Vot Woman!”
Minister Regenvanu explained the due process to get 50 percent of reserve seats of women into Parliament.
“There has to be a Bill that must be forwarded to the Parliament to amend the Constitution during a special sitting which will address that particular change,” he said.
“Two-thirds of Parliament which is 36 MPs, must vote in favor of that Bill. Once it is passed with 36 votes, a referendum must be conducted to allow all eligible citizens to vote ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ on the change which is to have 50 percent of women representation in Parliament.”
In the last legislature, an amendment was made to allow reserved seats at the municipal level. This does not require a change in the Mama Loa, but, only with the Representation Peoples Act.
The Parliament can change that by simple majority.
Regenvanu said process was also followed to include one third reserve seats for women in the provincial level, unfortunately, when it reached the Parliament, it did not succeed, as not all politicians welcomed the initiative.
At the beginning of the four-year term of the 11thLegislature, (2016) a Bill for 50 percent reserved seats for women was put forward in Parliament.
In June 2016, the Parliament passed the First Reading of the Bill in an unanimous vote.
A Constitutional Review Committee (CRC) which comprised representatives from the Vanuatu National Council of Women (VNCW), Department of Women’s Affairs (DWA), Malvatumauri National Council of Chiefs, VSDP and Vanuatu Christian Council (VCC) and MPs undertook a review on the constitutional amendments and reported back to Parliament.
According to Minister Regenvanu, there was no consensus on the majority of the changes.
The Foreign Affairs minister said the current Government has only three months left before their term lapse but they will work on the issue.
He also challenged the Vanuatu Civil Society Influencing Network (VCSIN) to ensure that if a referendum is passed, they have to make sure the population votes for 50% of women into Parliament. SOURCE: VANUATU DAILY POST/PACNEWS