WHEN DRAFTING THE national constitution of Vanuatu in the late 1970’s MP Joe Natuman, who was then a member of the National Constitution Committee, said that “this (political instability) was something that we did not anticipate when drafting the constitution because there were only two political groupings at that time; the Vanua’aku Pati and the Union Moderate Party”.
After independence political fragmentation’s within the political parties ensued, and this encouraged the formation of several other political parties that have directly, and indirectly, contributed to the nation’s history of political instability.
In a conversation this week with MP Joe Natuman, who is also a former Prime Minister, he related to Transparency International Vanuatu (TIV) that the constitution must be amended to address political instability in Vanuatu.
“The current constitution is too flexible, as it is easy for a motion of no confidence to be moved in parliament,” Mr. Natuman said.
He continued to say that “during an ordinary session, only ten signatures is needed, and for extra ordinary sessions only 27 signatures is needed”.
At the moment there is no particular provision in the constitution that prohibits this issue, therefore this provision must be strengthened, explains MP Natuman. As an example he suggested that “maybe increase the number of signatures needed to move a motion of no confidence motion in the parliament.”
Mr. Natuman revealed that the removal of a government is not a simple matter, and nor is it cheap. During a change of government millions of vatu are drained out from the national financial resources.
In a publication earlier this year Transparency International Vanuatu reported on the national costs by gratuity payments, the figures showed that spending’s on gratuity payments ranged from 4 million vatu to over 20 million vatu between 2002 and 2014.
The parliament and the government should work more on this issue and decide how this issue of political instability can be resolved because it is causing a lot of problems, emphasized MP Natuman.
He confirmed to TIV that several meetings have been held with the Commonwealth Secretariat regarding this matter, specifically brainstorming and developing ideas for constitutional amendments. In other words, change some laws and provide stability for the nation.
Mr. Natuman said that other areas in the constitution needs to be revised. Specifically referring to issues of freedoms, fundamental rights, religion and including other areas.