Speaker of Parliament, Esmon Saimon has publicly apologised after the Supreme Court ruled that the Bill for the Constitution (Seventh) (Amendment) as presented to the President for his assent is inconsistent with Articles 86 and 42 of the Constitution and should not be assented to in the absence of a national referendum.
“I want to say ‘sorry’ to the people in this community and people of Vanuatu if we (parliamentarians) had failed to work according to the provisions of the Constitution,” Speaker Saimon, who is on an official tour on Malekula, said in his official opening remarks to the people of Aulua, South East Malekula yesterday.
“As Members of Parliament (MPs) we have played our part to amend the Constitution to insert the appointment of the Parliamentary Secretary position in the Constitution. However, in the latest judgment, Chief Justice, Vincent Lunabek ruled that this amendment needs a referendum before the president assents to it.
Speaker Saimon told the congregation who gathered at Lanvitvit village at Aulua that he has no intention to appeal the Supreme Court decision at this stage.
“I am the Respondent in this case with the President of the Republic and I am on my official tour,” he said.
“I haven’t considered appealing the decision of the Supreme Court yet but I am entitled to 14 days to appeal the decision.”
The Speaker responded to questions raised among members of the public about the MPs who voted for the amendment to legalise the position of the PS.
He also reiterated that the law is for everyone and the President of the Republic has an obligation to assent or seek legal opinion when a bill is referred to him by the parliament.
“Today my case with the President is over and a referendum is required,” Speaker Saimon said.
“You, the people of Vanuatu will have your say when you go to vote in a referendum, but there is another case.
“The Supreme Court will deliver its judgment on this case on the 27th of this month.
“All the Parliamentary Secretaries involved have the right to appeal the decision, if it comes to that.”