11 Mar 2011

Vanuatu cabinet re-shuffle to shore up government numbers

1:36 pm on 11 March 2011

The Vanuatu prime minister, Sato Kilman, has made a cabinet reshuffle to shore up his numbers ahead of the resumption of parliament likely this month.

It came after justice minister, Yoan Simon, reportedly backed the opposition's plans for a motion of no confidence in Mr Kilman.

Mr Simon has been sacked and replaced by Ralph Regenvanu.

Mr Simon's Labour party has also been dropped from the coalition and replaced by the Vanuatu Republican Party, the VRP.

The Port Vila based Pacific Institute of Public Policy's Ben Bohane says the VRP wanted the land ministry, which Mr Regenvanu has headed for just three weeks, and where he had already initiated reforms.

But Mr Bohane says this doesn't appear to be a factor in his move to the justice ministry.

"It seems like he's been sacrificed to allow the VRP, the Vanuatu Republican Party, to come in as a coalition partner for the government. The government's numbers are very shaky. Parliament is set to resume some time at the end of this month and again there is ongoing talk of a vote of no confidence."