Vanuatu Parliament To Consider Dual Citizenship

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Citing economic necessity PM Carcasses hopes to amend constitution

By Ricky Binihi

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Nov. 22, 2013) – Prime Minister Moana Carcasses has told his government ministers and backbenchers to be in Parliament this week because the government wants to amend the Constitution.

Clerk of Parliament, Louis Kalnpel, confirmed to the Daily Post that a special parliament sitting to discuss Constitutional Amendments will take place this Friday.

For an amendment of the Constitution to come into effect it has to be passed by two thirds of the House, which means 35 Members of Parliament must support the amendment, and there has to be 48 or three quarters of MPs in the 52-member House present in Parliament on Friday.

Otherwise Parliament may meet a week later if only 35 MPs are present this Friday but still, for the amendment of the Constitution to take place two thirds of the House must support the amendment.

A pressing "economic" issue now on PM Moana Carcasses’ table is the Capital Investment Immigration Plan which its promoters say could turn Vanuatu around economically because it is envisaged to bring in Port Vila many millions of vatu.

But to help that economic plan of inviting multimillion dollar Asians become Vanuatu citizens, Parliament needs to amend article 13 of the Vanuatu Constitution on Avoidance of Dual Citizenship.

Article 13 says "The Republic of Vanuatu does not recognize dual nationality. Any citizen of Vanuatu who is or becomes a citizen of another state shall cease to be a citizen of Vanuatu unless he renounces that other citizenship within 3 months of acquiring Vanuatu citizenship of that other citizenship, as the case may be, or such longer period as Parliament may prescribe, except that in the case of a person under the age of 19 years the period of renunciation shall be 3 months after he has reached the age of 18 years."

Vanuatu won its Independence in 1980 after the Fathers of Independence promised locals that land would return to indigenous custom owners and that the stateless natives in the Condominium would be given citizenship.

Citizenship meant so much to the people in Vanuatu that the drafters of the Constitution said Vanuatu does not recognize "dual citizenship".

When there were allegations recently that Chinese people along the Central Business District have acquired Vanuatu citizenship corruptly without living in Vanuatu for ten years, the first national leader to come out vocal on the issue was the Deputy President of Vanua’aku Pati, Tanna MP Joe Natuman.

Vanua’aku Pati led Vanuatu into Independence in 1980.

"The Vanuatu citizenship is a prized commodity money cannot buy," Mr Natuman told Daily Post at that time.

Once the Dual Nationality is supported in Parliament sources close to the CIIP say there will be clauses in place to restrict the dual citizens from voting in Vanuatu, affiliating in politics, and holding public office.

People with Vanuatu heritage who are descedants of Blackbirding labourers living in Australia and Fiji can also apply to become Vanuatu citizens.

The claims to have a total of 36 MPs on its side to amend the constitution this Friday.

This would be arguably the sixth time since October 1979 when the Vanuatu Constitution is amended.

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