26 Jul 2004

Vanuatu election of prime minister delayed until Thursday

1:49 pm on 26 July 2004

The new Vanuatu parliament has failed to elect a new prime minister because of a boycott by the coalition group that includes the care taker prime minister, Edward Natapei.

The parliament was short of a quorum when it met this morning for the first time since the snap election called by Mr Natapei nearly three weeks ago.

The coalition involving Mr Natapei is reportedly unable to decide whether to put Willie Jimmy or Ham Lini forward

as candidate for the prime ministership.

The group led by Serge Vohor's Union of Moderate Parties was present with 28 MPs, which is a majority in the 52-member house.

Our correspondent in Port Vila, Len Garae, says Mr Vohor's group is now at a retreat until parliament meets again on Thursday.

"They have 28 confirmed on his side and Serge Vohor is to be prime minister and Maxime Carlot Korman to be his deputy and Barak Sope to be the minister of foreign affairs and Moana Carcasses to be the minister of finance."