11 Feb 2016

Vanuatu Parliament to sit today to elect PM

7:21 am on 11 February 2016

The shape of Vanuatu's next Government will emerge today when the new Parliament sits for the first time.

no caption

Photo: RNZ / Walter Zweifel

The election of a Prime Minister and Parliamentary Speaker are among the first order of business.

Vanuatu's snap election on January 22nd returned a Parliament more fragmented than ever, and one with a lot of new faces.

In recent days, two main camps have emerged during lobbying over the formation of a coalition government.

One group, which contains most of the political parties with more than one seat including the Vanua'aku Pati, claims to have a majority of the 52 MPs - reliable sources say it has chosen a Pentecost MP, Charlot Salwai, as its candidate for prime minister.

The other group, linked to the caretaker Government of Sato Kilman, has reportedly nominated first-time MP Ishmael Kalsakau of the Union for Moderates as its candidate.

Once a Prime Minister is elected, he will then appoint his 13 ministers.

Meanwhile, it's also expected that one of the first matters of business for the new Parliament will be approving a World Bank assistance package for the urgently-needed upgrade of the runway at Vanuatu's main airport.

This follows last month's decision by three major airlines to stop flying to Bauerfield Airport due to safety concerns about its runway.

Port Vila international airport

Port Vila international airport Photo: RNZ