Vanuatu’s History of No Confidence Motions against Prime Ministers since 1980

THIS YEAR MARKS thirty five years since gaining political independence from France and Britain. Looking back at our political history, Transparency International Vanuatu calculated a total number of 27 no confidence motions against Prime Ministers that were deposited in the parliament of Vanuatu:

1980 – 1990

In 1983, three years after the Independence, Vanuatu’s first Prime Minister Hon. Fr Walter Lini faced the first ever no confidence motion in parliament. In 1985 he survived a no confidence motion which was presented by Maxime Carlot Korman.

1990 – 2000

September 1991, Hon. Donald Kalpokas presented another motion of no confidence against the PM Hon.Walter Lini and succeeded. He was elected as the Prime Minister but reigned for only three months before the General Elections occurred.

In December of the same year, when the General Elections took place, Hon.Maxime Carlot Korman was elected as the Prime Minister. He survived a no confidence motion in 1993 which was presented by Fr.Walter Lini and managed to complete his four year term as the head of government.

Moreover, Serge Vohor was elected as the next leader after the General Elections in 1995, although there was instability within the government during the four year term from 1995-1998.

How? Well in 1996, a year after the 1995 General Elections, Maxime Carlot Korman was ousted as PM through a no confidence motion presented by Hon. Willie Jimmy and Hon. Barak Sope. Then, Serge Vohor was voted in as the Prime Minister.

In 1997 there were two motions of no confidence against PM Serge Vohor, one of which was successful.

Furthermore after the third General Elections in 1998, Donald Kalpokas who was the then Prime Minster also faced two motions of no confidence. He was replaced by Barak Sope Tamaute in November 1999.

2000- 2010

Barak Sope ruled for only five months before his regime was toppled by the next Prime Minister which is Edward Natapei.

Hon.Edward Natapei was PM from 2001 to 2004, surviving one no confidence motion.

In July 2004 there was another General Election, and Hon.Serge Vohor was voted as the head of government. Although he defeated a no confidence three weeks after he was elected as PM, he was ousted in December and Hon. Ham Lini Vanuaroroa became the next leader.

Ham Lini survived two motions of no confidence and ruled from 2004 to 2008.

Besides, Hon.Edward Nipake Natapei was elected as PM after the 2008 General Elections, enduring three motions.

2011 – 2015

Sato Kilman was elected the next Prime Minister and carried on despite two no confidence motions that were debated against him on the year of 2011. However in 2013 he voluntarily resigned from his position before a no confidence motion was disputed against him in the parliament.

Thus, Hon.Moana Carcasses Kalosil was voted in as the leader to fill in the vacant position.

A year later after Carcasses defeated two no confidence motions his government was ousted by the next regime, the Natuman Government.

Ruling for a year and three weeks defeating one no confidence motion, the Natuman’s government was toppled on June 11 2015. Hence, the Current Prime Minister for Vanuatu is hon.Sato Kilman.

Although another no confidence motion was deposited in the parliament 24 hours after Kilman was elected as Prime Minister, the new speaker of Parliament Marcelino Pipite announced on Tuesday that the motion was not in order.

It is clear that there is a string of political instability in Vanuatu since the 1980s, the impact on the country is visible with many unfinished jobs,

According to local media reports, the Opposition is currently seeking the Courts assistance for the vote on the no confidence motion after it was disqualified.

The Missing Pages & Declining Values

Motion after motion. Vanuatu is famous with motions of no confidence. MPs switching sides, performing reconciliations, then backstabbing’s, another allegation, loss of trust, switch sides again, perform another reconciliation, and the  cycle continues. And for whose benefit?

President Lonsdale

President Lonsdale summed it up very well in his parliament opening address last week on Monday, “the question that we ask ourselves the people of the republic of Vanuatu, and the leaders of this nation. These changes in politics, who benefits from it? Does it benefit the whole nation? Or does it benefit only us (national leaders)? ”.

3 days later the government changed by a motion of no confidence, the next day after that another motion was lodged by the former government.

Transparency International Vanuatu is concerned about political stability and the effect that it has on the chain of processes and services across the country – Political influence into daily public services, changes of management boards, and its effect on the different relevant programs and projects around the country, especially those with the blessing of a political will.

Effects of Political Instability

Political instability creates a vulnerable environment where corrupt acts can spread with nepotism, bribery and misappropriation.

Everywhere, in the buses, the kava bars, in churches, in homes, at functions, and on the streets the ‘why?’ question is on everybody’s mind. Why the changes? Over the years we have continued to hear that there will be measures taken to fix the problem, as each government takes power the promises of stability is mentioned but what we are seeing again this month shows otherwise.

Effect on Respect

Another factor to be extremely mindful of is the value of respect that our leaders are entitled to when taking this high positions. There is already a huge difference on the perspective that people have on leaders today compared to 10 years ago as a result of the continuous political changes – basically, the respect and aura of authority that precedes a leader slowly fades out, and the elements that dignifies a leaders circle of power gradually reduces by size.

Effect on Position

The high positions that are fought over, which are mostly through allegations and finger pointing’s, perceptively lose their once great awesome value. With each sudden political change the positions effectively loses its original value, and as a result the purpose of each stated position becomes disoriented from the reasons why they were set up in the first place – which are generally to represent the people, advocate for the people, safeguard national interests, and to make sure that the essential services to the people of the Republic of Vanuatu are not disrupted.

Coincidentally, a gap has been created. The distance between the original intentions that achieved Vanuatu’s independence and today’s’ current situations grows wider. President Lonsdale mentioned this fact when he cautioned the national leaders to revisit ‘the missing pages of our history’. He is not the only one with this message, even the former Natuman government talked about revisiting Vanuatu’s vision of independence, specifically emphasizing the need to establish what has been left out during Vanuatu’s growth as a sovereign nation.

The wider the gap the more instability it creates. And with personal interests soaring high the invitation for corrupt intentions grows.

Good governance has been preached by many different groups, NGOs, and individuals. But do we really understand it? Is it relevant to our current political environment? Judge for yourself by looking at what impact it is causing, is it positive or negative?

REMEMBER! In order for a state to be considered as a democracy, it needs to have a participatory population. In other words it means citizens MUST elect their leaders.

A Way Out Is The Only Way In 

Thus, a way out of this political instability is the only way in. Register at the Electoral Office and vote wisely in 2016.

Transparency International Vanuatu is concerned about the declining respect that we have in Vanuatu’s fundamental values and on the national leaders, and you should too. So do the right thing!

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