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Vanuatu Parliament was unable to proceed with the Bill for the Constitution (Eight) (Amendment) Wednesday afternoon because there was no quorum.
The Bill seeks to amend subarticle 4(3) of the Constitution which provides for political parties to be formed freely. It will allow Parliament to enact legislation to regulate the registration of political parties.
While 30 government Members of Parliament were present, the Opposition Bloc boycotted the special sitting so Speaker of Parliament, Esmon Saimon had to adjourn the special sitting because there was no majority as required.
Article 85 of the Constitution states: “A bill for an amendment of the Constitution shall not come into effect unless it is supported by the votes of no less than two-thirds of all the members of Parliament at a special sitting of Parliament at which three-quarters of the members are present. If there is no such quorum at the first sitting, Parliament may meet and make a decision by the same majority a week later even if only two-thirds of the members are present.”
“Since we have only 30 MPs here when we are required to have 39 members present, I now adjourned the special sitting to 2pm on Wednesday next week, to discuss that bill,” the Speaker ruled.
The Bill for the Constitution (Eight) (Amendment) will modify subarticle 4(3) which provides for political parties to be formed freely and contest elections. And that they shall respect the Constitution and the principles of democracy.
The government wants to amend it by deleting “Political parties” and substituting it with “Subject to any restrictions imposed by Parliament, political parties”.
According to Prime Minister Charlot Salwai’s explanatory note, the Bill for the Political Parties Registration Act requires all political parties intending to field candidates in an election to Parliament, to register as political party in accordance with the procedures and criteria under that bill.
The PM noted that successive government since the 1980’s has identified that the fragmentation of political parties and the complete lack of guidelines for the formation of operation of political parties is one of the key factors contributing to the instability of Government.
“In order to bring stability back into the formation and operation of governments and improving the overall governance of the country, a legal and constitutional framework that ensures a strong sustainable political party system is required and the introduction of the political party legislation is a necessity to achieving such a strong sustainable political party system,” he stated.
As the amendment constitutes a change to the electoral system of Vanuatu, this bill does not commence unless it is supported in a national referendum as required under the Article 86 of the Constitution.
SOURCE: VANUATU DAILY POST/PACNEWS
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