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?

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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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A Look At The Presidents Speech – First Parliament Ordinary Session

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President Lonsdale Baldwin (l) and Speaker of Parliament (r)

President Lonsdale Baldwin

June 8, 2015. This morning the First Ordinary Session of the Vanuatu Parliament was officially opened by His Excellency Lonsdale Baldwin, President of the Republic of Vanuatu.

The President was elected in September 2014 after several unsuccessful attempts were made by the Electoral College to elect a President from the list of candidates which included other prominent individuals, the following extract is from Transparency International Vanuatu’s reporting from September 26 2014:

“By the end of the sixth sitting even the Chief Justice raised his concern within the National House, ‘you are not here to defend your groupings, you are not here to defend your island, you are not here to defend you religion, you are here to elect a candidate who can become the President”.

“Gradually, out of the 58 votes from the Electoral College, 46 chose Lonsdale Baldwin to be the new President, thus making the province of TORBA proud to have one of their own as the symbol of peace and unity for Vanuatu”.

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Inspect first Guard of Honor in 2014

Since then, people have wondered how he will perform in his new role as the President of the Republic. This was answered during his appeal for international assistance right after TC Pam which left massive damages and caused the loss of lives. From Japan while on official tour, President “Baldwin Lonsdale broke down while describing the tragedy in his homeland,” reported the ABC. A commentator from Fiji described that “there is nothing more empowering than when the leader of a nation breaks down in a live interview in front of the whole world to ask for assistance on behalf of his countrymen”.

The President Delivers Powerful Message Based On ‘The Christian Principal’

The Parliament was full with members of the parliament, including representatives from the diplomatic community, public servants, politicians, media personals and others. In this first ordinary session the President reminded the national leaders of their duties to abide by all national principals, specifically religion, or Christianity.

“On this first session I want to base my speech on this fundamental ideals; a call”, the President began”…a call on the national leaders to revisit the original spirit of our national values, and national interests. To capture the missing pages of our founding fathers vision, and dreams for Vanuatu as depicted in our national symbols”. Referencing Second Chronicles Chapter 7, Verse 14 (The Holy Bible) the President read “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

The President (far left) and Prime Minister (right) and other leaders in discussion

The President (far left) and Prime Minister (right) and other leaders in discussion

This powerful speech reflects well the current situation in Vanuatu, our ‘lands’ needs healing – economical, natural and social recovery, especially after TC Pam. Be ‘humble’, and ‘turn’ away from what you are doing that is not right, either it be bribery, unfairness or any other ‘wicked ways’ that is being practiced. It is a ‘sin’ – unlawful, illegal, wrong, therefore, therefore ‘turn’ away.

Citizens Must Be Aware Of Laws

“How much (do the) citizens of the republic of Vanuatu know about the laws that we pass in this parliament? After we have passed this laws…and gazetted, how many of us MP’s, return to our constituencies to explain to our people the laws?” the President called on the leaders.     IMG_2463 (2)

Over the years members of the public have raised this similar questions, in one particular event a voter stood up and questioned a former MP why he has not been back to his island since getting elected. The former MP raised a number of not so confident smiles when his response contained no valid reason.

What If The “Elites” Do Not Know About The Laws Of Vanuatu?

Another point raised by the President was the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) reporting in April, 2015. The PAC ;

“found out that some of the government statutory bodies, the government institutions…who are the elites. They do not know about (the) Financial Management Act”.

He furthered stressed that “if the elites do not know about the laws of Vanuatu, then it will be worse for our people. So Mr. Speaker, after 35 years, we need to re-look at our paths. What are the benefits that our people can get regarding these laws?” the President stated.

We Must Be Our Own Priority

Yumi’, said the President, “it appears in our national anthem”. He stressed that the word ‘yumi’ clearly states that every work and decisions that parliamentarians make in the parliament ‘yumi’ must be the first priority.

Our national flag carries a design that “must be remembered” at all times by our leaders. The flag carries a Y shape, beginning from Torres down to Anietyum. It reminds us that the decisions we make here, all the governments’ distributions of services must be distributed fairly, they must follow the lines that are outlined in our national flag.

Bills to be looked at in Parliament First Ordinary Session

Bills to be looked at in Parliament First Ordinary Session.

Click here to watch the video of the President delivering his speech.

Click here to download full video of the President delivering his speech.

Click here to download full audio of the Presidents speech.

Click here to download copy of Public Accounts Committee report by TIV.

The Importance Of The Radio In Times Like This

IN A VILLAGE in rural Vanuatu an elder walks to a small home store and buys two new batteries for his small Panasonic red radio. Back at home he places the batteries into the battery slots, at the end of his radio antenna he ties the end of a copper wire, and the other end of the copper is firmly tightened around a long bamboo pole nailed onto the side of a mango tree by his son. The bamboo pole reaches high into the air to capture radio transmissions.

He turns on his faithful old radio that has been informing him for the past several years, and begins to tune in to the national radio station. But he is not the only one tuning in, across the country hundreds, or if not thousands of radios, are turned on and tuned into the same station.

They are all listening to another Ordinary Session of the Vanuatu Parliament, in a democratic state like Vanuatu everyone has to right to be informed of the laws that are discussed, passed, and to be aware of other issues that are f national interests. It is also provides the incentive for voters to check on the participatory efforts of their parliamentary representatives: Are they speaking up? Are they representing our views? Or are they doing otherwise?

Listen to the radio, listen to how your representatives participate, but most importantly take the initiative to inform yourself and others about the laws that govern, or that will govern us.

Bills to be looked at in Parliament First Ordinary Session

Bills to be looked at in Parliament First Ordinary Session.

Bills to be looked at in Parliament First Ordinary Session.

Link to LiveStream – Parliament Chamber:

Link to Parliament Archives – downloadable audio and video files

http://stream.parliament.gov.vu/archive/

“Public Service Commission Politicized” Says Port Vila MP

THIS WEEK MP WILLIE JIMMY singled out the dominance of a political party’s influence over the Public Service Commission (PSC).

The Port Vila MP said in parliament that the PSC is under political influence, it is dominated by the Vanua’ku Pati (VP).

“How many different political parties are members of the PSC? VP dominates this department, so to speak frankly, there is no need to beat around the bush,” MP Willie Jimmy said during the parliament’s debate on recruiting a foreign police commissioner.

He said the politicizing of policy services begins in the PSC, therefore this issue must be addressed before looking at the issue of the Police Force and the Commissioner.

“I want to ask the prime minister, please once this law is passed, let us look into the head of all public offices”, the office that “is responsible for the recruitment” of all the public servants.

Political influence into public offices is not something new. Different departments, units and public offices have experienced external influences. Take the Vanuatu Citizenship Commission for example, in 2014 the VCC came out publicly to condemn political interventions by certain politicians with regards to the granting of citizenship’s to their fellow foreign nationals.

Later during the year more than 20 individuals had their Vanuatu citizenship’s stripped for unlawful reasons.

Logically, there is a line drawn to separate the political field from the public service, a wall that stands in between for very good reasons.

According to Transparency International Vanuatu’s (TIV) National Integrity System (NIS) report, public procurement is not transparent and there are significant loopholes in the laws. As a result public procurement processes are open to abuse.

The report states that there is widespread political interference in the public service appointment, suspension and termination process of public servants.

According to a street survey conducted in 2014 by NIS researchers, 86% thought that there was interference and 85% thought that nepotism was a problem. Moreover, there was little confidence that appointments were being done on merit.

Meanwhile, the Prime Minister in response to the MP’s comments in the parliament said the issue will be considered and addressed in the next parliament session.

“I want to thank the Port Vila MP for the valid comments that he raised. I am considering the points stated, particularly the public service commission membership which needs changes that will remove political interference in posts,” the Prime Minister said.

The Prime Minister assured the parliamentarians that he “will consult lawyers to look into this matter and change the membership of the public service commission” and they (parliamentarians) will probably need to go through it in the next parliament session.

TIV understands that there are currently five members of the Public Service Commission including the Chairman.

The Vanuatu constitution states that the Public Service Commission shall be composed of five members appointed for 3 years by the President of the Republic after consultation with the Prime Minister.

The President of the Republic shall appoint every year, from among the members of the Commission, a chairman who shall be responsible for organizing its proceedings.

The Prime Minister, Hon. Joe Natuman, is a member of the dominating Vanua ‘Ku Party.

A lot has happened since the terrifying night of March 13, Saturday next week will be 3 months since TC Pam. But again, the airwaves are transmitting alleged reports of another motion of no confidence.

Also in the news this week is the arrest of Vanuatu’s special envoy, Mr. Kevin Lai, who is being investigated for operating an alleged pyramid scheme, click here to read more.