2 Dec 2015

Vanuatu opposition challenges dissolution of parliament

3:18 pm on 2 December 2015

The former opposition in Vanuatu has filed an urgent constitutional application challenging the president's decision to dissolve parliament two weeks ago.

President Baldwin Lonsdale acted after the parliament failed to resolve a political impasse caused by the jailing of 14 government MPs for bribery in October.

Two former MPs, Ralph Regenvanu and Joe Natuman, deposited the application yesterday on behalf of 24 MPs and this morning appeared in court with three others to submit sworn statements.

A second complaint was filed on behalf of Kenneth Natapei, who was elected during a recent by-election but was never sworn in as an MP because of the dissolution.

Mr Regenvanu says there are a number of reasons for the challenge.

"Some of the reasons are to do with the council of ministers and how it made the resolution to dissolve parliament, some of them are to do with the powers of the president to dissolve parliament, others are to do with the fact that the second ordinary session of parliament had already been called, and also that Kenneth Natapei had still not be sworn in by parliament and he was still not an MP at the time parliament was dissolved."

The case is expected to be heard on Monday.