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PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Oct. 19) – The Vanuatu Association of Non Government Organizations (VANGO) today submitted a petition of more than 1,000 signatures opposing proposed changes to the country’s constitution.

The Vanuatu Parliament was to begin deliberations today on a series of amendments the umbrella organization says would pose a threat to democracy in Vanuatu.

A spokesman for VANGO said the group believes that such a strong public response in just 48 hours sends a clear and powerful message to Prime Minister Serge Vohor and the Government that a significant number of people do not agree to the proposed amendments to the Constitution.

The proposed amendments include the a change the group says would effectively remove the right of the people of Vanuatu to decide on any proposed change to the country’s parliamentary system.

VANGO maintains that the Constitution is a sacred document that safeguards the principles of democracy and provides the people of Vanuatu with a fundamental right, through Article 86, to make the final decision in a national referendum before any amendments are made to VanuatuÍs parliamentary system.

The group says the manner in which the amendments were rushed quietly into parliament completely breached this right.

VANGO is also organizing meetings with the Leader of Opposition and the Head of State to raise the concerns of VANGO on behalf of its members and members of the public in general.

October 21, 2004

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