17 Jun 2019

Vanuatu political rollercoaster continues with cabinet reshuffle

2:05 pm on 17 June 2019

The Vanuatu Prime Minister has reshuffled his cabinet in the wake of yet another failed motion of no confidence brought against him.

In the latest developments Charlot Salwai reshuffled his cabinet, effectively removing Vanua'aku Party MPs from his inner circle.

Vanuatu's prime minister Charlot Salwai in New Zealand

Vanuatu's prime minister Charlot Salwai in New Zealand Photo: RNZ Pacific/ Johnny Blades

The move came just a day after the opposition leader Ishmael Kalsakau withdrew the sixth motion of no confidence brought against Mr Salwai since he took office in 2016.

According to the prime minister's staff, Vanua'aku Party MPs, who represent a large portion of the coalition government, used the motion to try and pressure the prime minister into giving them more ministerial portfolios.

They say this pressure continued even as parliament prepared to hear the ill-fated no confidence motion on Friday and this was a major factor in Mr Salwai's decision to carry out the latest reshuffle.

Local media reports indicate the sacked Vanua'aku Party leaders have been replaced by MPs from the Vanuatu Leaders Party.

According to the Vanuatu Broadcasting Television Corporation the newly reshuffled members are Jotham Napat who is now the deputy prime minister, and minister for tourism and commerce, and Matai Seremaiah who has been appointed the minister for agriculture.

The pair replace Vanua'aku Party leader and former deputy prime minister, Bob Loughman, and former agriculture minister, Hosea Nevu.

It is unclear how long the latest reshuffle will hold and more developments are expected once government and parliamentary offices reopen on Monday.

There are also reports that another motion of no confidence was filed late on Friday and that instruments for the dissolution of parliament have been prepared by government but have not yet been delivered to the president.

Charlot Salwai had previously fronted local media saying that he would dissolve parliament before allowing such political instability to be entertained.