18 Nov 2009

Vanuatu PM counters challenge with major reshuffle

5:17 pm on 18 November 2009

The Vanuatu Prime Minister, Edward Natapei, has dumped half his Cabinet and two parties from the Government because they are planning a vote of no confidence in him.

He has brought the Alliance grouping of 16 members from the Opposition into Government and cut links with the National United Party and the Vanuatu Republican Party.

This means that the NUP's Ham Lini has been replaced as Deputy Prime Minister, by the leader of the Alliance block, Sato Kilman.

The VRP's Maxime Carlot Korman is set to be replaced as Speaker by George Wells in a parliamentary vote next week.

Education Minister Salo Salwai confirms the dumped parties want to topple Mr Natapei.

"A motion has been initiated by the National United Party and the VRP, the Vanuatu Republican Party."

Mr Salwai says the coalition government now has the support of 33 of the 52 MPs in the House.