CALL FOR CONSTITUTIONAL CHANGE IN VANUATU TO STOP "PARTY HOPPING"

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PORT VILA, Vanuatu (April 29, 2002 – Radio Australia)---Vanuatu's caretaker Prime Minister Edward Natapei wants the country's constitution changed to prevent MPs swapping political parties.

Ahead of Thursday's general election, Mr. Natapei said MPs who cross the floor should be required under the constitution to vacate their seats.

Voters could then replace them in by-elections, he said.

Mr. Natapei blamed much of the recent political instability in Vanuatu on the ease with which independents leave the government.

He said so-called "party hopping" must be stopped, to give the country the stability it needs to attract investment make the economy grow.

 

CALL FOR VANUATU TO WATCH FOR ELECTORAL FRAUD

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (April 30, 2002 – Radio Australia)---Vanuatu's former ombudsman has called on the country's Electoral Commission to exercise extreme vigilance to curb electoral fraud during Thursday's national elections.

Radio Australia correspondent Sean Dorney reports from Vanuatu that the former ombudsman, Marie-Noelle Ferrieux-Patterson, is a candidate in the Port Vila constituency, where she says there have been massive irregularities in the past.

"Marie-Noelle Ferrieux-Patterson is standing as an independent in the capital, where there are 32 candidates battling it out for six seats.

"The top six vote winners will get in.

"‘The fraud and the corruption in the electoral system were coming to a point in Vanuatu where it's so big that it is frightening,’ Miss Ferrieux-Patterson said when she was ombudsman during the last elections in 1998.

"The electoral office told her that 60 percent of the votes in Vila may not have been straight that year.

"‘It is multiple voting because no one checked the identity of the people when they came to register. So we have a huge amount of multiple voting," she said.

"The Chairman of the Electoral Commission says an observer team has been invited to witness this year's poll.

"Sean Dorney, Radio Australia News, Port Vila."

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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