22 Nov 2018

Vanuatu opposition files motion of no confidence

3:27 pm on 22 November 2018

The leader of the opposition in Vanuatu has this morning filed a motion of no confidence in the prime minister Charlot Salwai.

Prime Minister of Vanuatu Charlot Salwai

Prime Minister of Vanuatu Charlot Salwai. Photo: ITU Pictures

Ishmael Kalsakau said he had secured the support of 22 opposition MPs and 8 government MPs for the motion in the 52 seat parliament.

There have been mulitiple unsuccessful attempts previously to try and remove Mr Salwai and last week, amid rumours of an impending vote, he expressed confidence he had the backing of 35 MPs.

But Mr Kalsakau said an extraordinary sitting of parliament has been requested for November 29 to hear the motion.

"Automatically in my view, government comes to a standstill as the prime minister remains in office but he ceases to hold office until the motion is disposed of.

"There are 30 members of parliament who signed. There's 22 opposition (MPs) and eight who were in government."

The motion cites 16 reasons why the MPs have lost confidence in Mr Salwai's leadership, Mr Kalsakau said.

This includes the government's increase of Value Added Tax, delays in the rehabilitation of the international airport runway, the handling of the Ambae Volcano disaster and failure to address the case of convicted former deputy prime minister Joe Natuman.

Yesterday four government MPs said they wrote a letter to the Speaker of Parliament saying their signatures on the document had been forged.

But Mr Kalsakau said all MPs who signed this motion had also been asked to sign assertations to prove they had done so voluntarily and also acknowledging that they would be liable for investigation by the Leadership Code Commission if they reneged.

"When we are doing something as members of parliament that results in the incurrence of costs from the public purse members of parliament should start realising and appreciating that they have to be responsible and if not become liable for the waste of public money," Mr Kalsakau said.

Vanuatu parliament building in the capital Port Vila.

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

The full list of reasons against Charlot Salwai's leadership are as follows:

  • The Prime Minister no longer has the confidence of the majority of the Members of parliament.
  • He has displayed a lack of fairness in the distribution of services to all the islands of Vanuatu;
  • He has effected an increase in the Value added tax legislation not to deliver services to the needy but principally to satisfy salaries of Members of Parliament just to secure a hold on the majority.
  • He has permitted stagnancy in the dealings of land in Vanuatu to the detriment of the people.
  • He has been unfair in the distribution of portfolios to the detriment of the people of Vanuatu.
  • He has handled the volcanic disaster with blatant disregard for the human right of the citizens of Ambae.
  • He has failed miserably to deal with the situation of the former deputy Prime Minister , having been found guilty of crime, to continue to permit the said deputy Prime Minister to continue to assume public office despite the criminality attached to him thereby eroding the integrity of Government and to fail to proceed with leadership code charges thereby resulting in the State expending further monies to Mr Natuman's benefit in relation to entitlements unwarrantably accrued.
  • He has permitted the mishandling of an immediate deportation of an Indo Fijian resident resulting in the Supreme Court adjudging the operation to be illegal.
  • He has yet again misused public monies diverting them towards the creation of further positions of Parliamentary Secretary purely for political purpose thereby further demeaning his office as Prime Minister and in a manner that could likely infringe upon the constitution.
  • There has been a serious delay in the completion of the international airport leading to a lack of confidence in investment and tourism and the Prime Minister has neglected to properly direct the Vanuatu Project Management Unit which has caused the delay.
  • He has failed to protect ni-Vanuatu jobs in areas of investments reserved for ni Vanuatu only.
  • He has permitted the politicization of infrastructure by focusing not on the needs of the people but by political affiliation, in particular by diverting infrastructure development in the tune of vt 4 billion to Central Pentecost alone.
  • He has tarnished the reputation of the Republic of Vanuatu by engaging a special advisor on Crypto currency and block chains knowing full well that the said person is blacklisted by the World Bank.
  • He has by his Minister brought the Government into direct violation of the law by permitting illegal immigrants to be granted entry permits to reside and work in Vanuatu to the detriment of the people.
  • His governance has been miserable to say the least given since the beginning of his tenure to date he has yet to have his Finance Ministry audited so as give to the people an accurate quantification of his Government's extraordinary expenditure.
  • His poor attendances to the greater rural population of Vanuatu by failing to rescue them from the degrading plight of further hardship in life by failing to subsidize small farmers to alleviate them from the disaster caused by the reduction of copra prices currently facing over 80% of the population of Vanuatu;