27 Nov 2009

Vanuatu PM recalled from CHOGM as speaker declares his seat vacant

2:59 pm on 27 November 2009

The Prime Minister of Vanuatu, Edward Natapei, is to be recalled from the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Trinidad and Tobago, after the Speaker of Parliament declared his seat vacant.

The Speaker, Maxime Carlot Korman, who is set to be dumped from the post next week, has ruled that Mr Natapei lost his seat for missing three consecutive Parliamentary meetings and failing to notify the Speaker's office of his absence.

The Attorney General's office has indicated Mr Korman's ruling is in line with the rules of Parliament.

An official in Mr Natapei's office says the Prime Minister is being recalled from the CHOGM meeting.

He says the Prime Minister's office had submitted an explanation for Mr Natapei's absence, but this was too late and had also been signed by a secretary when the rules require the MP concerned to have it signed it.

It is the first time in Vanuatu history that a Speaker has sanctioned a Prime Minister in this manner.

The election of a new Prime Minister could occur as early as next week when an ordinary session of Parliament begins.