25 Feb 2020

Vanuatu's caretaker PM bailed after court appearance

8:35 pm on 25 February 2020

Vanuatu's caretaker prime minister has been bailed after appearing in a Port Vila court charged with perjury.

Vanuatu's prime minister Charlot Salwai.

Vanuatu's prime minister Charlot Salwai. Photo: RNZ/Koroi Hawkins

Charlot Salwai's bail conditions, and the lingering charge, make it difficult for him to campaign, with an election due next month.

Mr Salwai, his agriculture minister Matai Seremaiah, the former speaker of parliament Simeon Seule, and MPs Jerome Ludvaune and Tomker Netvunei, all made a preliminary appearance before the court.

They face charges including bribery and perjury that stem from a move to introduce parliamentary secretaries, positions that the Supreme Court later declared null and void.

They have been granted bail until their next appearance on the 17th of March, with conditions that they mustn't commit any crimes or leave Vanuatu's main island, Efate.

The travel restriction makes the caretaker prime minister's re-election campaign difficult, with the general election two days after his next court appearance.

Their lawyers immediately took an appeal to the Supreme Court.

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