28 Apr 2011

Vanuatu's ousted govt plans to ask for dissolution of parliament if reinstalled

4:55 pm on 28 April 2011

Vanuatu's ousted government plans to ask the President for a dissolution of parliament if it is reinstalled by the Supreme Court.

The Court is to rule on a constitutional application by the former government of Sato Kilman challenging the Parliamentary Speaker's decision to rule as successful a motion of no-confidence against it in last Sunday's extra-ordinary session.

Johnny Blades reports:

26 of the country's 52 MPs voted to oust Sato Kilman on Easter Sunday.

The opposition claims this number falls short of the absolute majority required by the constitution to pass a motion of no-confidence.

The Speaker of parliament, Maxime Carlot Korman, has defended his decision, saying the vote clearly came out in favour of ousting the Kilman government.

"If they want to challenge the parliament decision that voted out one Prime Minister with 26 votes against 25, it is their right. But I, in my belief that it is the government that lost the majority, a simple majority even if not an absolute majority, but the government lost. It became a minority government so that is why we continued to proceed for the election of the Prime Minister and when the Prime Minister was elected it was by 27 members."

Mr Korman played a pivotal role in the last two changes of government.

But four defections this week from his Vanuatu Republican Party in the fallout from the motion have halved the number of its MPs.

I should be the Prime Minister before, in the place of Sato Kilman. It was me that gave the Prime Minister (position) to Sato Kilman. And they (the defectors) continue to act until today against their own party. So I'm very happy now, I have a good spirit now, because they left the party.

The move of one of those four MPs to join the Labour Party this week has added another MP to the new coalition government of Serge Vohor.

Mr Vohor has had three previous tenures as Prime Minister which were short and marred by controversies often linked to what some see as the fiery character of the Santo MP.

The new Trade Minister, Sela Molisa, says Mr Vohor has changed a lot.

He'll be okay, he's changed a lot over the years, especially over the last four or five years. His attitude has changed, the way he does politics has changed. He joined a prayer group in which they pray a lot. I think that has had an impact on the way he operates in politics. he's completely changed, I think, yeah.

Before the Easter no-confidence vote, Mr Kilman had sought the dissolution of parliament but was turned down by the President.

A member of the Kilman group, Ralph Regenvanu, says the political situation has become untenable:

When we get back in government we will, again, ask for dissolution as one of the only ways out... unless something miraculous happens with the numbers, a big group comes over or something. So we will continue to pursue dissolution as a way out of this. Otherwise, if the numbers stay strong as they are, we're not going to see a stable government in Vanuatu for this year.

However while many complain about the political instability in Vanuatu, Sela Molisa insists these political fluctuations are all done within the law and that he says is the most important thing.