Vanuatu’s Constitution To Be Reviewed By Private Group

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Vanuatu’s Constitution To Be Reviewed By Private Group Leader says national document no longer serves people’s needs

By Godwin Ligo

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Jan. 9, 2014) – A private ni-Vanuatu group has established itself to undertake Constitutional Review that it intends to present to the Vanuatu Government on completion of its tasks.

Headed by Philemon Hango as its president, the group has gathered support from community leaders and members of the public to support their cause.

"The Review of the National Constitution is long overdue and must become the number one priority for the Government in 2014,"Hango told Daily Post.

He said the National Constitution was drafted and accepted in 1979 by political leaders at the time because they wanted to see the immediate lowering of the Union Jack of Britain and Tricolor of France but the Constitution no longer serves the real needs of the people of today and tomorrow.

"We need the Constitution today which will take this country forward for the next 50 years and which will guarantee both citizens of Vanuatu and foreign investors an atmosphere of trust and confidence that stops corruption in high places by politicians, public servants," he said.

Asked why his group set up a private constitutional review committee when the Government is the appropriate authority to do this, Hango replied, "Minister Ralph Regenvanu was about to appoint a new Constitutional Review Committee but was then removed from the Ministry of Justice," he said.

"Today we hear about the setting up of a constitutional review committee but we have not seen one in place yet. Years ago past Governments spent millions of vatu on Constitutional Review Committee(s) whose report(s) now gather dusts somewhere up in the parliamentary offices. Are we going to walk down the same avenue again for the new decade?"

On the question of what legal power(s) his committee has to carry out the tasks and how to go about getting it through to the Government and parliament, he answered, "We hold the voice of the people and will make our voice heard when the review we work on is ready. The real voice of the people has not been voiced and heard for many years now except through minority representations in parliament."

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