13 Jun 2016

Court orders suspension of Vanuatu's parliament

1:59 pm on 13 June 2016
A statue at the entrance to Vanuatu's parliament in the capital, Port Vila.

Vanuatu's Parliament. Photo: RNZI / Jamie Tahana

Vanuatu's Supreme Court has ordered that Parliament be suspended while a constitutional petition filed by the opposition is heard by the court.

The opposition had objected to a special session of parliament being called for last week, and subsequently boycotted the session, meaning the required quorom of three-quarters of MPs was not met.

Because the quorum wasn't met, the session has to be rescheduled for later this week, with only a two-thirds quorum required.

The Vanuatu Supreme Court building in Port Vila.

The Vanuatu Supreme Court building in Port Vila. Photo: RNZI / Jamie Tahana

In the meantime, the ordinary session started today, but the opposition applied for this session to be stopped, arguing it is an infringement of its rights if the two sessions run concurrently.

Before the session was suspended today, the parliament witnessed new Efate MP, Gillion William of the Graon Mo Jastis Pati being sworn in.

Also, the president of Vanuatu, Father Baldwin Lonsdale, made a speech stressing the need for MPs to seriously consider the registration of political parties in the future to help promote transparency and justice in the country's political system.

Mr Lonsdale said with the recent events in Vanuatu, its struggles with corruption and bribery, he believed that the registration of political parties would protect the country's democracy.