18 May 2011

Seeking majority, Kilman reshuffles Vanuatu cabinet to accommodate defector

9:26 am on 18 May 2011

Vanuatu's prime minister, Sato Kilman, has reshuffled his cabinet for a second time since being reinstated by the appeal court last Friday.

Mr Kilman has appointed the Vanuaku Party member, Willie Reuben Abel, to the health portfolio, replacing Don Ken, who is now the minister of ni-Vanuatu affairs.

This comes as parliament is to convene on Friday when the government's numbers will be tested by the opposition, led by Serge Vohor.

Our correspondent says Mr Abel had been with the opposition group at a resort outside Port Vila until yesterday when he was picked up by his wife, allowing him to defect to the government camp.

Another MP, Samson Sam, who had defected from Mr Kilman's side last month, has also rejoined the prime minister's camp.

However, Mr Kilman still appears to be short of a majority going into Friday's sitting.