19 Nov 2015

Vanuatu risks constitutional crisis

8:57 pm on 19 November 2015

Vanuatu opposition MPs have filed an urgent constitutional application to order a sitting of parliament.

Ralph Regenvanu

Ralph Regenvanu Photo: WikiCommons / Marke Lowen

The constitution requires two ordinary meetings a year and so far there has been only one.

Many government MPs are in jail for bribery and the prime minister plans to take a large delegation to Paris next week.

The Supreme Court application mentions as the first respondent the Speaker of Parliament and as the second respondent the Republic of Vanuatu.

Opposition MP Ralph Regenvanu says without parliament sitting, the country risks being left without a budget.

"There is still enough time for the budget to be prepared and tabled. We will support the government to suspend standing orders so that we don't require the period of notice that you normally required for a budget. We will do everything possible on the floor of parliament to make sure the budget gets passed including suspending standing orders. So we are requesting the government to please table the budget in this second ordinary session that we are calling."

Mr Regenvanu says he expects the courts to consider the constitutional application before the end of the week.

The president, Baldwin Lonsdale, has given the politicians until November the 22nd to end the impasse.

Vanuatu President, Baldwin Lonsdale.

Vanuatu President, Baldwin Lonsdale. Photo: AFP

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