16 Aug 2004

Vanuatu leaders fail to decide on person to become president

7:21 am on 16 August 2004

The Vanuatu electoral college has been unable to decide on a new president to replace Alfred Maseng, who was deposed in May when his criminal background was revealed.

The college voting was reportedly divided between five candidates.

The college's 58 members, made up of members of parliament and provincial leaders, will meet on Monday to try again.

Yesterday, the opposition met with government to try to thrash out a likely president from the 15 nominees, before today's formal session.

But the government's spokesperson, Kal Moli, said government is refusing to back any candidate preferred by the opposition until the opposition drops its threat of a no-confidence motion, due to go to court tomorrow.

"As far as the government is concerned, they will back any candidate, on the basis that several matters of importance are being addressed. The motion was a subject of discussion by the leaders. That also is an issue."

The election of Alfred Maseng took four rounds of voting and lasted longer than a week.