19 Nov 2003

Vanuatu's Prime Minister rings the coalition changes

4:57 pm on 19 November 2003

Vanuatu's Prime Minister and leader of the Vanuaaku Pati, Edward Natapei, has dumped his coalition partner, the Union of Moderate Parties, from the Government.

He has replaced it with the National United Party, or NUP, and a group of independents.

The NUP was previously the main Opposition party with its head, Willie Jimmy, the Opposition leader.

The new line up features the NUP president, Ham Lini, as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Public Utilities, while Mr Jimmy becomes Trade Minister.

Mr Jimmy says the new coalition is the result of a decision made early this year to try and form a grand coalition, involving all three major parties, to give the government stability.

But he says in discussions over the past three weeks the UMP disagreed with that plan..

"They tried to make it really impossible for the joint declaration to be effective and implemented, so that's why we decided if that's the way you want it, we can collect other members within the opposition and make up enough numbers, in fact more than what UMP's got to assure the Prime Minister of the new arrangements in forming a new Government"

NUP leader Willie Jimmy.