8 Nov 2018

Vanuatu opposition biding its time on power play

2:38 pm on 8 November 2018

Vanuatu's opposition says it has no current plans to advance a motion of no-confidence against the prime minister Charlot Salwai.

Vanuatu parliament building in the capital Port Vila.

Vanuatu parliament building in the capital Port Vila. Photo: RNZI/ Walter Zweifel

This comes after the dismissal of two members of the Vanuatu Leaders Party from cabinet by Acting Prime Minister, Bob Loughman, while Mr Salwai was overseas.

The opposition leader Ishmael Kalsakau has dismissed local media reports that a motion is being prepared at this time, although he says there are grounds for one.

Mr Kalsakau said he was yet to talk to the dismissed Minister of Infrastructure and Public Utilities, Jotham Napat and Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Matai Seremaiah.

"These are the only two performing ministries in government. They performed exceptionally better than any of the other ministries," he said, suggesting it was part of the reason behind their dismissals.

"So if they do decide to come to the opposition, they'll be welcomed with open arms."

Mr Kalsakau said the opposition would evaluate its situation and would then decide if it was in a position to lodge a motion.

"We're not going to play the same games we attempted in the past years, because you raise the people's expectations just to realise that the motion wouldn't be successful.

"If we're going to change the government, we're going to do it right this time," he said, admitting that the opposition only had around eleven of the parliament's 52 MPs in its ranks.

Although he is the opposition leader, Mr Kalsakau said the grouping's candidate for alternative prime minister in any motion of no-confidence situation remained Sato Kilman.

"If we were to go towards a new government, I've given my blessing to the honourable Sato Kilman, out of respect for his (senior) status, and his experience in leadership to take us towards 2020."

Mr Salwai came to power after Vanuatu's last general election in early 2016, with the next poll due in early 2020.

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