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Vanuatu System of Government Information

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Pacific Governments - Vanuatu


Country name:





Legal system:

(See Sources of Law for a full overview)


Official Languages:

National Government:

(i) Executive Branch:

Head of State: President - elected by an Electoral College, consisting of Parliament and the leaders of the provincial governments, for a five-year term.

Head of Government: Prime Minister - Following legislative elections, the leader of the majority party or majority coalition is usually elected Prime Minister by Parliament from among its members.

Cabinet: Council of Ministers appointed by the Prime Minister, responsible to Parliament.

(ii) Legislative Branch:

Parliament - unicameral with 52 seats - members elected by popular vote to serve four-year terms.

National Council of Chiefs - Malvatumauri - composed of custom chiefs elected by their peers; advises Parliament on all matters relating to custom and tradition; may make recommendations for preservation and promotion of ni-Vanuatu culture and languages.

(iii) Judicial Branch:

Island Courts

Magistrates' Court

Supreme Court - the Chief Justice is appointed by the president after consultation with the prime minister and the leader of the opposition; three other Justices are appointed by the President on the advice of the Judicial Services Commission.

Court of Appeal - the highest appellate court comprising 2 or more judges from the Supreme Court. Note: Court of Appeal often includes senior judges from other common law countries in the region.

(See Court System for a full overview)

Regional Government:

6 provinces - Malampa, Penama, Sanma, Shefa, Tafea and Torba

Note: By tradition, Custom chiefs exercise customary authority within local communities and the Malvatumauri have a constitutional role at village, island and provincial levels.

© 2001 University of the South Pacific

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