9 Jul 2013

Vanuatu Opposition to go ahead with no-confidence vote

5:24 pm on 9 July 2013

Vanuatu could be heading for another political upheaval as the opposition claims they have the numbers to force a vote of no-confidence in the government.

This isn't the first time in their four-month rule that the opposition has made such a claim and the government says it doesn't expect anything to come from it.

But no-confidence motions continue to cost Vanuatu money and some are calling for constitutional change.

Jamie Tahana reports:

The Opposition leader, Ham Lini, says he was reluctant to push for the motion and he is only doing it because it's what the people of Vanuatu want.

"HAM LINI: It's a call from the people of Vanuatu to do that because of the leadership. It's not my wish, but it's the wish of the people of Vanuatu to do that. At the moment we have the number 27 to call the parliament to have a vote of no-confidence."

Mr Lini says the opposition needs 27 MP's signatures, which they claim to have, in order to force a vote of no-confidence in parliament. But he says the opposition is awaiting a court decision on the Port Vila constituency dispute before deciding whether to proceed with it. Mr Lini says the issue can not wait until the next elections.

HAM LINI: By that time a lot of things will have gone wrong. At the moment, government spending is too much. A change of government will help to control our finance.

Lopez Adams, from Youth Against Corruption Vanuatu, says he doesn't expect anything to come from this motion. Mr Adams says the opposition has failed in its last couple of attempts to roll the government. The government spokesperson, Ralph Regenvanu, says the government is rock-solid and if a no-confidence vote ever did come to fruition, they would survive.

RALPH REGENVANU: The opposition can talk about it, but until a valid motion is deposited with the office of the speaker we have no way of knowing if it's true or not. And as far as we know this government still has 33 MPs which is a clear majority - it's almost two thirds of the members of parliament - and there's nothing that shows to us that is otherwise.

Mr Regenvanu says the opposition is trying to destabilise the coalition and cast doubt over government backbenchers in the hope they will defect to the opposition. But Lopez Adams says something needs to change. He says frequent motions are costing the country dearly. He says such moves are costly and use a lot of resources and they can't happen as frequently as they do.

LOPEZ ADAMS: It costs a lot of money for the government to take a motion of no-confidence to the parliament. It's a lot of money, getting ministers out from the ministries and creating new ministries and reinstating people. And it's just a lot of cost and a waste of time for development to go ahead. It's not helping the country at all.

Ralph Regenvanu says the government plans to begin constitutional talks in the hope of enacting changes to reduce the number of no-confidence motions in Parliament.

RALPH REGENVANU: There definitely needs to be political reform, which will require a change in the constitution, which will require a referendum. And the current government is preparing to start that process to have a consultation with the presidents of all political parties on the proposed way forward in terms of political reform, and that meeting will happen in August.

Lopez Adams says some constitutional change does need to change because all the no-confidence votes are diverting attention away from the real issues facing Vanuatu.