24 May 2010

Confusion reigns in Vanuatu Parliament over who heads main party

1:54 pm on 24 May 2010

Vanuatu's parliament has begun its first session for the year with confusion reigning over the leadership of the Vanua'aku Party.

Prime Minister Edward Natapei claims the party presidency as does Tanna MP Harry Iauko.

Sally Round reports.

"Mr Iauko maintains he was elected as the president of the Vanua'aku Pati after the annual congress of the country's oldest and biggest political party early last month. Mr Natapei disputes this and last week filed an action with the Supreme Court calling in part for Mr Iauko's election to be declared null and void. Our correspondent in Port Vila says at this morning's session Mr Iauko took a seat on the opposition benches. He says Mr Iauko's recent appointment as deputy leader of the opposition caused further confusion. The parliamentary speaker has called on both men to clarify who holds the Vanuaaku Party leadership role, but this may have to wait for a court ruling. No date has yet been set for the proceedings."