26 Nov 2014

Claims Vanuatu MPs fund much bigger

5:28 pm on 26 November 2014

A government MP in Vanuatu claims there have been reports that there are several million US dollars available to bribe the country's leaders.

He says the suspension from parliament of 16 MPs yesterday will teach them not to accept huge amounts of money if they don't know the source of the funds.

The government claims the MPs got about ten thousand US dollars each from a fund managed by the opposition leader, Moana Carcasses.

Our correspondent reports the nameless government MP telling him he was approached by opposition MPs and offered the money.

Vanuatu Prime Minister Joe Natuman

Vanuatu Prime Minister Joe Natuman Photo: Supplied

He says there was no mention of a loan scheme as has been claimed by the opposition, rather it was to gain support for a motion of no confidence against the prime minister, Joe Natuman.

That motion is now scheduled to be debated on Monday next week.

The MP says if he was to take part in a successful toppling of Mr Natuman he was told he would receive another 40 thousand US dollars.

A Vanuatu-based academic says the successful motion is possibly a move by the prime minister to ensure stability

Non-resident fellow at the Lowy Institute for International Policy, Tess Newton Caine, says Mr Natuman appears to have tried to avoid instability.

"There is very much a focus on trying to achieve and maintain some form of stability. That to my mind, would be the main driver for having taken this approach. Although it's something of a surprise, in terms of the actual methodology that's being used, it's not a surprise in terms of what the Prime Minister has expressed as being very important to him."

One of the suspended MPs says government MPs have also used what he calls a development fund.

Kalfau Moli says using the fund shouldn't be seen as bribery as he had supported an ongoing no-confidence motion in the government well before applying for the money.

Mr Moli also alleges that government members and even the Prime Minister have borrowed money from Mr Carcasses before.

"The loan from the fund that is done, a lot of people have borrowed money from that fund, even Vanua'aku Pati members of parliament. That is to assist their constituency. They have a facility that can assist MPs, therefore several of us have opted to use that fund."

Moana Carcasses Kalosil

Moana Carcasses Kalosil Photo: RNZI