30 May 2002

Vanuaaku Pati retains Prime Ministership, loses a key ministry

8:40 am on 30 May 2002

Vanuatu's coalition government has reached a final agreement on how it will divide Cabinet positions in the new administration.

While the Vanuaaku Pati leader Edward Natapei will retain the Prime Ministership, they have had to give the powerful Public Utilities Ministry to the Union of Moderate Parties.

The UMP finished the election as the leading party with 15 seats, one more than the Vanuaaku Pati, after early indications the VP would finish with the most seats.

Willie Reuben Abel, the Vanuaaku Pati political co-ordinator, says the parties met to reconfirm a memorandum of understanding signed just after the poll.

The parties have agreed to two key changes to that original deal.

"We now accommodate the actual election results and also the final decision as to what Ministries goes to UMP and what Ministries goes to Vanuaaku Party, so the only major changes that have happened is that the Vanuaaku Party has now released the Ministry of Public Utilities to UMP and also the Speaker's position to UMP."

Wille Reuben Abel.

The UMP will also run Education and Agriculture, while the Vanuaaku Pati will control Finance, Health, Land and International Affairs.