6 Apr 2020

Graon Mo Jastis wins most seats in final results from Vanuatu election

9:50 pm on 6 April 2020

The Graon Mo Jastis Pati led by Ralph Regenvanu has won the most seats of any single party in Vanuatu's general election.

Vanuatu parliament

Vanuatu parliament Photo: RNZ/Sally Round

With nine MPs-elect, the party is still far short of a majority in Vanuatu's 52-seat parliament, and will need to pull together a coalition with at least three other parties to form government.

Final results from last month's election were released by the Vanuatu Electoral Office this evening as the country's north felt the brunt of Cyclone Harold, a category five storm.

With Vanuatu bracing for a significant natural disaster, and already in emergency mode due to the Covid-19 pandemic, any new government will be focussed on immediate crisis management.

A degree of lobbying has already been underway in Port Vila over the past few weeks since the 19 March election, but the make-up of a new government is not clear.

The incumbent caretaker prime minister, Charlot Salwai's Reunification of Movement for Change and the country's oldest party, the Vanua'aku Pati, both had won seven seats.

The next biggest parties are the Leaders Party of Vanuatu and the Union of Moderate Parties, both with five MPs.

In notable results, former prime minister Ham Lini lost his seat in Pentecost, while his National United Party won four seats overall.

Another former prime minister, Sato Kilman, was also defeated in his Malekula electorate.

Again, no women won any seats in the election.

There is a 21-day deadline from today for the filing of election petitions.

Meanwhile, any extension of Vanuatu's two-week state of emergency would have to be approved by parliament by 10 April, and the formation of a new government could have an element of urgency to it.

Mr Regenvanu, the incumbent Foreign Minister, is not guaranteed the role of prime minister.

His Graon Mo Jastis Pati was a core part of Mr Salwai's coalition government for the whole previous term of parliament, but the latter's stint in power could yet be extended as MPs consider continuity at a time of crisis.