Call for Vanuatu PM to end his silence
Five days since 15 of his MPs were convicted of bribery charges, Vanuatu's Prime Minister Sato Kilman is yet to say anything about the saga that's engulfed his country's politics.
Five days since 15 of his MPs were convicted of bribery charges, Vanuatu's Prime Minister Sato Kilman is yet to say anything about their controversial pardoning.
The Supreme Court on Friday found 14 MPs, including the deputy prime minister and speaker of parliament, guilty of giving and receiving corrupt payments.
But in an extraordinary turn of events on Sunday, parliament's speaker, Marcellino Pipite, who was standing in as acting president, pardoned himself and all but one of the convicted MPs.
The president Baldwin Lonsdale says Mr Pipite acted unlawfully and has promised action.
The head of Transparency Vanuatu, WIllie Tokon, told Jamie Tahana the situation is very serious, and the Prime Minister needs to end his silence.
WILLIE TOKON: Everybody was shocked because this was the first time that this thing has happened in Vanuatu. There has never been any precedent like this. Especially when they have not been sentenced yet. The court system has not sentenced yet, the court system hasn't sentenced them. On the 22nd they will be sentenced. They haven't been sentenced yet.
JAMIE TAHANA: In your statement this afternoon you say this current situation in Vanuatu is very serious. How serious is it right now?
WT: It is serious in the fact that we are seeing blatant, open abuse of power. And power which does not seem to have any end. This is a country where everyone respects each other. We respect our leaders but we expect the same thing from our leaders. The president has said it before, our constitution and our law is for everybody. No body is above the law.
JT: Since the Friday, since the verdict, since the pardoning, we have not heard from prime minister Sato Kilman or any of the other government MPs. What do you make of this?
WT: It's really difficult especially when we hear that the prime minister didn't want to meet with the leader of the opposition. I think they met separately with the president but they didn't meet together. It is hard to believe that he can be silent when we have government that is being run by many convicted parliamentarians.
JT: So what do you want the prime minister to do?
WT: Personally, I think he should come out with a decision and come out and tell the people of Vanuatu whether he likes to this government with a convicted MPs. Or common sense would say he should liase with the leader of the opposition, form a government that is much cleaner than we have now and prevent a snap election.
JT: But you want a clean out of parliament, you see no future for these 15 MPs in Vanuatu's parliament.
WT: No, we need a good clean government.
JT: So what needs to be done in Vanuatu to stop something like this saga from ever happening again?
WT: We have to elect people who are upright and serious about running the country instead of people just going out for their own self. We also need to change our constitution, close up a few loopholes. Like when the president leaves, the acting president should not be a politician, like what we have now.
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