17 Nov 2023

Vanuatu politicians offer apology to citizens for political crisis

10:42 am on 17 November 2023

By Len Garae

Bob Loughman, left, and Ishmael Kalsakau

Bob Loughman, left, and Ishmael Kalsakau Photo: Twitter.com/Ralph Regenvanu

Vanuatu's opposition bloc has apologised to the people of Vanuatu for inflicting hardship on them by causing at least three changes in government instead of focusing on recovery after cyclones Judy and Kevin and Lola.

"We want to say sorry to the people of Vanuatu. I am sorry that we have put you all in that situation, instead of focusing on recovery" (after the cyclones)," Kalsakau said.

Both Kalsakau and Loughman said focussing on cyclone recovery priorities was more important than political preferences.

Charlot survived survived as prime minister on Wednesday after the political leaders agreed to resolve their differences and avoided the dissolution of Parliament, which would have resulted in a snap election, as the Ni-Vanuatu people continue to come to grips with the impacts of double cyclones in Febraury/March and cyclone Lola last month.

Former prime ministers Ishmael Kalsakau and Bob Loughman delivered similar messages of apology after the country's head of state and President Nikenike Vurobaravu gave all leaders of political parties an ultimatum on Wednesday to find a common goal to resolve the political instability in the country instead of him dissolving Parliament.


A protest march to parliament was held in Vanuatu on Thursday against the ongoing political instability.

One of the youth organisers at the protest, Elsie Molou, urged leaders to think of the people.

"This march is to stand and raise our voices to assure the government and everyone that we want to stop the instability," she said.

"It doesn't paint a good image for the youth to see their government constantly changing...to see them not taking the many different issues seriously.

She said the leaders of the country should be accountable for their actions.

"Remember that in Parliament [they are] representing a nation not themselves".

Meanwhile, President Vurobaravu has assured the nation that his office will make the political party registration and appropriation bills his priority.

Non-government and civil society organisations in Vanuatu want the Political Party Registration Bill to include barring MPs from crossing the floor or they lose their seats in Parliament.

Transparency International Vanuatu chief executive Dr Willie Tokon has said it is his organisation's wish to all voters to make sure they do not re-elect those MPs who keep crossing the floor for personal financial gain.

People waiting for cash

Meanwhile, the Vanuatu Daily Post reports people impacted by the natural disasters earlier this year still have not received financial support promised by the government.

The newspaper reported on Thursday that Finance Minister John Salong announced that the government would start providing digital cash transfers directly to affected households.

However, while the six-month state of emergency (SOE) for cyclones Judy and Kevin has ended and the country has entered into another similar SOE following Lola, people continue to wait for assistance.

"In a recent update, Minister Salong said he has been advised that the Disaster Risk Management Act does not provide for the facilitation of the initiative as part of the emergency response, but it could be carried out through the recovery phase coordinated under the Department of Strategic Policy, Planning & Aid Coordination of the Prime Minister's Office," Vanuatu Daily Post reported.

According to the report, Salong said he had already prepared the budget for it, but it was not passed in Parliament due to the political situation.

"I have prepared the budget for it to be presented in parliament, to allow for the transaction of a certain amount of money to 66,000 households in Vanuatu, and for the utilisation of the system set up under the Vanuatu Post but was not passed in Parliament," he said.

"If it's God's will, we can continue the incentive. Unless we change the Disaster Risk Management Act, it will be part of the recovery response."

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