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Diary - Absent minded

It's a nuisance when pupils forget to bring in a note explaining why they were absent the day before. It messes up your register, you have to fend off the school office and you are forced to badger the poor child for days on end. But it doesn't normally cause a constitutional crisis.

In the tiny Pacific republic of Vanuatu, however, failure to bring in an absence note has brought down the government.

When Prime Minister Edward Natapei was away on official business, his office overlooked the island nation's rule that members of Parliament will forfeit their seat if they miss three consecutive sittings without explaining their absence to the speaker. The result is Mr Natapei has now lost his seat.

A caretaker government has taken over in the former Anglo-French colony, home of the Prince Philip Movement which reveres the Queen's consort as a god, until Parliament can elect a new speaker.

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