Parliament yesterday resolved to establish a Constitutional Review Committee (CRC), which will comprise of not more than 27 Ni-Vanuatu citizens as members.
The Committee is required to submit its reports together with its findings and recommendations to the Speaker of Parliament no later than the 31st of August 2016.
Vanuatu has experienced much political instability in the last 21 years of constitutional government, with no government lasting a full parliamentary term since 1995 and the last legislature (the 10th legislature) a track record of four different Prime Ministers within three years.
In a concerted effort to clamp down on political instability, in order to provide for more sustainable development and economic growth to achieve better and faster service delivery to the population, the incumbent Government headed by Prime Minister Charlot Salwai has made it one of its highest priorities to once again attempt to amend the constitution to reduce instability.
Motion no.11 of 2016 passed in the 1st Ordinary Session of Parliament, will see the composition of the CRC include:
I. Leader of Opposition Ishmael Kalsakau
II. One representative of each of the political parties represented in Parliament, all of whom shall be MPs, to be nominated by the President of that party
III. Two independent MPs chosen by the Speaker
IV. One representative of the Vanuatu Christian Council, who will be nominated by the Chair of the Council
V. One representative of the Malvatumauri National Council of Chiefs, to be nominated by the President of the Council
VI. One representative of the Department of Women’s Affairs, who will be nominated by the Director of the Department
VII. One representative of the National Youth Council, to be nominated by the President of the Council
VIII. One representative of the Vanuatu Chamber of Commerce, to be nominated by the President of the Chamber
IX. One representative of the Vanuatu Council of Trade Unions, to be nominated by the Chairman of the Council
X. One representative of the Vanuatu Association of Non-Government Organisations, to be nominated by the Chairman of the Association
XI. One representative of the Vanuatu Society for Disabled People, to be nominated by the President of the Society
XII. That seven of the members chosen under (i), (ii) and (iii) shall be the Ad Hoc Committee established by the Special Session of Parliament on the 16th of June.
Parliament further resolved that Speaker of Parliament Esmon Sae, will write to each of the organisations listed above within three days of the passage of the motion, asking them to make their written nominations to his office within 7 days.
If no written nomination is received by the Speaker from any organisation within seven days, he shall appoint the person to represent that organization on his own initiative.
The CRC has a clear mandate to review the Bill for the Constitution (Seventh)(Amendment) Act No. of 2016 and the Parliamentary Amendment to the Bill tabled at the special session of Parliament on Thursday, consult and provide the views of the organisations they represent on the Bill for the Constitution (Seventh)(Amendment) and the Parliamentary Amendment to the Bill.
The terms of reference require the CRC to consult and provide the views of the organisations they represent on any other constitutional amendments or legislation that is required to: enable the regulation of political parties; enable the regulation of elected candidates; safeguard political stability and integrity of leaders in Vanuatu; provide for the regulation of the involvement of naturalised citizens in Vanuatu politics; provide for the procedure of appointment of the Speaker of Parliament.
The CRC is also mandated to provide for the independence of the office of the Auditor General; extend the life of Parliament; regulate the powers of the Parliament to dissolve Parliament; regulate the powers of the Prime Minister and a Minister after the dissolution of Parliament and before a general election; regulate the occurrence of motions of no-confidence against the Prime Minister; and expand the definition of a leader to include leaders in the private sector working with the Government.