Past Year Has Been Good For Politics

TRANSPARENCY VANUATU SAYS the past year has been a relatively settled one for the country’s politics, which could be a good omen.

It’s one year since the country went to the polls to vote in a snap election called after half the previous government was jailed for corruption.

The country has been plagued by regular motions of no confidence and changes of government since independence in 1980.

Evelyn Toa 

A board member for Transparency Vanuatu, Evelyne Toa, said many people went to those elections with a sense of optimism that there could be change.

She said the new government had been pushing for large scale reforms to bring stability, some of which have proved controversial and would be challenging to implement.

However, Ms Toa said things do appear to be more settled, but the hard work for the government was yet to come.

“One year on, but that doesn’t mean that we are strong and stable,” she said.

“After one year we’re still, you know, trying our best to have this government going on for the next three years. So that’s their aim, they always talk [about] their commitment to political stability but that will depend on our elected members.”

Source: Radio New Zealand International (RNZ)

New Opposition Leader Reveals New Visions

NEW STATE MINISTERS, a majority Government, a solid Opposition bloc, and a nation in relief from several major events that had left a deep impact. And now, with the current calm we wonder where will the next step take us to?

Immediately after the formation of the new government, political silence seemed to have briefly engulfed the nation while our political leaders familiarized themselves with their new working environments.

Even so, political instability remained a heartbroken threat to a stable future. “But the person that was nominated to be the Prime Minister was candidate that we had shared kava with…and it is because in honour of that kava ceremony the Opposition decided not to nominate a candidate but that the result of the vote will show that both sides of the House support a Prime Minister” assures the new Leader of the Opposition Honourable Ishmael Kalsakau, briefly referencing the kava ceremony where they pledged their like-minded support for Charlot Salwai as the next Prime Minister of Vanuatu.

The new Opposition Leader was speaking at a press conference that was organised by theOL 6 Opposition Group around 3 o’clock yesterday afternoon. The press conference was held at the Parliament House in front of the media, and a mixed crowd of political bearers and a dozen members of the public.

Speaking from behind a blue covered table the Opposition Leader laid out his Office’s future plans. Behind him his younger brother, who was also elected into Parliament, sat quietly while fellow MP’s Sato Kilman, Hosea Nevu and Christopher Emelee flanked his older brother on both sides. Newly elected MP for Luganville McCarthy Ati was also present for his first official appearance.

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In his speech the Opposition Leader reminded the Government “that this country is still recovering from the effects of Tropical cyclone PAM as well as there being little sign the effects of Nino are ceasing as the greater part of Vanuatu is facing shortage of water and food.”

“The Opposition notes it is now midweek and yet the Government has yet to relay to the public a mission statement of its governance for the next 4 years” the Opposition Leader said.

The Opposition voiced further concerns of maladministration within the Port Vila Municipal Council and called for a commission of inquiry to investigate “allegations regarding the conduct of the Lord Mayor concerning the Council’s purse.”

In general, what stood out from the Opposition’s mission statement is the vision to expand the Opposition Office equivalent to a fully operational department or Ministry. That fully staffed office should be able to cater for all members of the Opposition and hopefully minimize the risks of members switching sides, a trend of which is common in Vanuatu politics and is an emotional headache for its citizens.

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Furthermore, the Opposition plans to introduce new roles within its grouping to equip the Opposition so that it can be more effective in its service to the people. A Shadow Cabinet will be formed by the Opposition consisting of shadow portfolio spokespersons who will voice matters directly to their counterparts in the government. For example, the Opposition Leader will appoint a Shadow Minister of Foreign Affairs whose role will be to comment and raise issues on matters surrounding the work of the Government’s Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Once finalized this will be a significant leap forward not only for the Office of the Opposition but for good governance and a hopeful stability for Vanuatu.

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Transparency International Vanuatu once asked a veteran politician why MP’s continuously switch from one grouping to the other, is it because of our political system?

His response was simple and clear, “our system is fine, it is the people who run it that are not fully utilizing it. We have not yet fully utilized a hundred percent of this system because we have continued to spent most our time running for political power rather than spend that time to focus, develop, and to effectively contribute to the development of the political system that we are using.”

Having a Shadow Cabinet in place is most definitely a percent towards that hundred percent.

Historically, the first ever Shadow Cabinet was established by the Opposition Leader of the United Kingdom in 1951 to oppose the policies of the Winston Churchill government. Other nations followed suit to establish their own Shadow Cabinets including Australia and New Zealand in the Pacific.

The Shadow Cabinet can be seen to have three main roles, the first one is to organise the parliamentary tactics of the Opposition. The second is to assist the Opposition’s position to the alternative government, and the third role is to provide experience and training for potential future ministers.

The Press Conference organised by the Opposition came to a close at around 4 o’clock.

Click here to download the full statement by the Opposition.


Parliament Meets To Elect New Government

AFTER A RATHER LONG period of political uncertainties the parliament of Vanuatu will finally elect a new government today.

Port Vila this morning experienced a string of traffic jams up to the Parliament compound. Dozens of people looked on from outside the parliament as the new elected representatives walked in this morning.

Elected representatives ready to enter the Parliament chamber.

Inside the parliament media personals are busy sorting out broadcasts transmissions to inform the people of Vanuatu by radio, television, and by live-streaming through the parliament website.


Security is also tight. Dozens of security officers are lined up outside the parliament gates while others roam around the parliament compound.

Former MP Maxime Carlot (right) and new MP Albert William (left) of the GJP Party.

Over the last couple of days the will for stability has been a driving force behind many conversations within the political arena, and the hope for stability continues to remain on  every citizens minds. Evidently, by the end of the today Vanuatu will already have a new government in place.

By 10:30am the swearing in of all the Members of Parliament had finished. MP Joe Natuman (who is the Senior Member) was then chosen to act as the Speaker of Parliament for the election of the new Speaker of Parliament who will then proceed with the election of the Prime Minister.

At midday MP for Malekula Esmon Saimon was elected as the new Speaker of Parliament for Vanuatu.

He led with 33 votes while the other nominated MP for the position of the Speaker, Christopher Emelee, took 19 votes.

Next was the election of the First Deputy Speaker that went unopposed, it shows that the Unity Front for Change Bloc currently holds the majority in Parliament. MP for Santo Mr. Edwin Amblus, who is a former Magistrate, is now the new First Speaker of Parliament.

The election for the Second Deputy Speaker also went unopposed, the nomination was made by MP Jotham Napat and seconded by MP Edwim Amblus. The position of the Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament goes to MP Havo Moli from Malo/Aore Constituency.

The Third Deputy Speaker is MP Alickson Vira from Ambae, and the Fourth Deputy Speaker is Marcelino Barthelemy from Malekula.

MP for Pentecost Charlot Salwai was nominated for the position of the Prime Minister unopposed.



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Acting Clerk of Parliament summons the new elected representatives in the Chamber.