10 Dec 2004

Prospective Vanuatu Prime Minister says he swapped sides after MPs bribed

11:21 am on 10 December 2004

The Vanuatu Court of Appeal is expected to hand down its decision shortly on whether Parliament can hold a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister, Serge Vohor.

The Supreme Court earlier this week ruled that the Speaker, Josias Moli, erred in denying the Opposition the vote last week, but the Government won a stay pending the outcome of an appeal.

The Opposition has overwhelming backing after many in the Government swapped sides over the Prime Minister's offer of diplomatic recognition for Taiwan.

Meanwhile the Opposition's candidate for Prime Minister, Ham Lini, who had been Deputy Prime Minister, says he did not intend moving against Mr Vohor until the Speaker and Taiwan officials offered his party's MPs bribes.

"They gathered together at one of the Minister's homes. The Speaker of Parliament drove one or two Taiwanese to them and they started giving envelopes to them."

Ham Lini says the envelopes each contained around one hundred US dollars.

He says the MPs accepted the money but thought better of it the following morning.