Opposition: PM Be Blamed For Stubbornness And Lack Of Leadership If Constitutional Crisis Emerges

IT HAS FINALLY come down the number games, with both sides claiming to maintain solidarity within their own groupings. The Government and the Opposition are now in a stand-off situation – the Opposition now has a command lead of 25 MPs in their ranks, while the Government has 13 MPs.

opposition

This stalemate has pushed the Opposition to call a press conference yesterday 27 October to clear its position over this political crisis. The Opposition wants a government of national unity but only if the Prime Minister resigns.

Therefore, the Opposition “calls on the Prime Minister to do the honourable thing at this juncture

MP Ham Lini, Deputy Leader of the Opposition

MP Ham Lini, Deputy Leader of the Opposition

of Vanuatu history by resigning immediately”. This comes after the Prime Minister appointed MP Isaac from Epi as Minister for Lands about an hour earlier in a show of “protecting his minority government in defiance of public opinion and the international democratic norms and principles”, as stated by the Opposition.

The Opposition emphasized that “If constitutional crisis should emerge then the opposition will squarely put the blame on the Prime Minister for his intransigence (stubbornness) and lack of leadership,”

Meanwhile Prime Minister Sato Kilman continues to hold on to power with 13 MP’s, and also offering MP’s from both side of the house to come forward to fill in vacant ministerial portfolios.

PM Kilman and the newly appointed Minister for Lands (center).  Source: Vanuatu Daily Post

PM Kilman and the newly appointed Minister for Lands (center).
Source: Vanuatu Daily Post

Transparency International Vanuatu Chairman Dr Willie Tokon is calling on the Government and the Opposition to find a solution to this stalemate for the people of Vanuatu.

Transparency International Vanuatu is also concerned on the continual misuse and abuse of public assets especially in regards to the Government vehicles. Transparency International Vanuatu is aware that recently law enforcement officers had allegedly chased down a Ministerial Government Vehicle that was being driven by a political supporter of one of the convicted MP’s who is now serving time in prison.

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The leading MP’s of the Opposition Group at the Press Conference.

Transparency international Vanuatu (TIV), as its mandate, will continue to advocate against corruption – bribery, nepotism, misappropriation, cronyism, maladministration, embezzlement, fraud, conflict of interest, money laundering, extortion and etc.

TIV’s plans to conduct a series of anti-corruption and voter awareness empowerment activities around Vanuatu, which is still in its early planning stages, but once finalized the movement will surely expect to attract people from all walks who want to see that corruption does not have a place in society.

TIV invites the citizens of Vanuatu to join the voice of the movement. For any information contact us:

contact details

To view or download the full press statement by the Opposition click here: Opposition Press Statement.

Supreme Court Sentences Each Convicted MPs To 3-4 years Imprisonment 

THE SUPREME COURT OF VANUATU delivered its sentencing for the 14 convicted Members of Parliament this morning in court. While a peaceful crowd gathered outside eagerly waiting to witness what was sure to happen in the next hour or so a company of Police and Paramilitary (VMF) Officers kept a watchful eye all around.

Justice Mary Sey told the convicted MPs in court today before delivering the sentences that, “you were given power and authority as leaders of this nation, and in that comes trust, but you betrayed that trust, the public’s trust in you as leaders.”

Justice Mary Say continued to say that “the act of bribery needs to be weeded out in Vanuatu, and its penalties which you the members of parliament have passed in parliament must be enforced”.

“This case will set a precedent for future matters relating to bribery,” Justice Mary Sey said.

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Police bus arrives at the Correctional Center

Sentences;

Moana Carcasses Kalosil MP for Port Vila who offered bribery in the form of VT 1million to the now convicted Members of Parliament was charged with 18 counts and was given a sentence of 4 years imprisonment by the Supreme Court.

Tony Nari, MP for Pentecost was charged with two counts and was sentenced to three years and six months imprisonment.

Former Minister of Lands inside the Police Bus

Former Minister of Lands inside the Police Bus

Marcellino Pipite, MP for Santo Rural was sentenced to three years imprisonment.

Paul Barthelemy Telukluk MP for Malekula was charged with one count and sentenced to three years imprisonment. 

Sebastien Harry MP for Tanna was charged with one count and sentenced to three years imprisonment.

Serge Vohor Rialuth MP for Santo Rural was charged with one count and sentenced to three years imprisonment.

Antony Wright MP for Port Vila was charged with one count and sentenced to three years imprisonment.

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Convicted MP’s inside Police Bus.

Jonas James MP for Paama was charged with one count and sentenced to three years imprisonment.

John Amos MP for Tongoa was charged with one count and was sentenced to three years imprisonment.

Thomas Lakin MP for Tanna was charged with one count and sentenced to three years imprisonment.

Steven Kalsakau MP for Efate Rural was charged with one count and sentenced to three years imprisonment.

Silas Yatan MP for Tanna was charged with one count and sentenced to three years imprisonment.

Arnold Prasad MP for Santo was charged with one count and sentenced to three years imprisonment.

Jean Yves Chabod MP for Port Vila was charged with one count and sentenced to 3 years imprisonment.

Police Bus leaves the Court for the Correctional Centre with the convicted MPs.

Police Bus leaves the Court for the Correctional Centre with the convicted MPs.

Willie Jimmy Tapangararua MP for Port Vila who pleaded guilty earlier, he received a suspended sentence from imprisonment.

“However,” stated the Judge, “let this be a lesson and a reminder. That you are hereby warned that you are not going to jail today, but any reoffending in the next two years will immediately resort in your having to serve this sentence of 20 months in imprisonment in addition to any other penalties that may be imposed for your reoffending”.

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An emotional Willie Jimmy leaves earlier after having his imprisonment sentence suspended by the Supreme Court.

The judge said sentences are to be effective immediately; however the convicts have 14 days to file an appeal case.

All the convicts are now being held at the Correctional Center near the Dumbea Hall.

The MPs were convicted for accepting bribery offers in the form of VT 1million vatu from Moana Carcasses Kalosil in 2014 to oust the then government through a no confidence motion against the then Prime Minister Joe Natuman.

To view or download the full document of the Sentencing click here: Bribery Case Sentencing.

AUDIO INTERVIEW: Tess Netwon Cain, political analyst at Vanuatu-based Devpacific think tank, talks with Radio New Zealand International after the sentencing: Click here to listen. 

(Source: http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/programmes/datelinepacific/audio/201775748/jail-terms-begin-for-14-mps-in-vanuatu)

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Supreme Court: Pardon Instrument Unconstitutional

THE SUPREME COURT OF VANUATU has quashed the Pardon Instrument that Pipite had signed on 10 October, Justice Saksak declared it unconstitutional and ruled that Presidents Revocation Order is constitutional.

“Mercy is not the subject of legal rights. Mercy begins when legal rights end”, Justice Saksak stated in Court this afternoon when referring to the power to pardon.

In brief, the Judge explained that there is a difference between Functions and Power when referring to the letter that the President issued to Marcelino Pipite to act as the Acting President while in his absence.

In the letter the President transferred his Functions and not his Power, therefore Marcelino had exploited his position, at that time, to pardon himself and the other convicted MP’s.

More details of the court judgement will be published soon.

Pardon Instrument – Judgement Today

THE SUPREME COURT will deliver its judgment on the legality of the Pardon Instrument for the 14 convicted Members of Parliament this afternoon Wednesday, 21st October, 2015.

Both the prosecution council and the defense council gave their submissions to the Supreme Court yesterday morning regarding the legal basis of the pardoning and the revocation of the pardoning of the 14 convicted MP’s by the President.

The Prosecution Council claimed in Court that the Pardoning of the 14 convicted MP’s including
some Ministers on October 10th 2015 is unconstitutional.

Presidential Revocation

Prosecution Council claimed that the act by the then Acting President Marcellino Pipite was unconstitutional. One of the reasons why they claimed that the Pardon Instrument was unconstitutional was conflict of Interest as accorded in Article 66 of the Constitution. The Prosecution counsel said it is a clear that there was a conflict of interest due to the fact that the Acting President pardoned himself and the other convicted MP’s.

Article 66 of the Constitution provides that the Conduct of Leaders is in line with the Leadership Code. It states that any person defined as a leader in Article 67 has a duty to conduct himself in such a way, both in his public and private life, so as not to place himself in a position in which he has or could have a conflict of interests or in which the fair exercise of his public or official duties might be compromised.

In relation to the revocation of the Pardon by the President of the Republic of Vanuatu His Excellency Baldwin Lonsdale, the Prosecution Counsel agreed that the President has the power to revoke instruments of a party which he considers incorrect.

On the other hand, the defense council told the court that they strongly agree that Marcellino Pipite lawfully exercised his presidential powers as accorded by article 38 of the Constitution.

The defense council made this submission court with supporting evidence which is a letter dated 5th October 2015, from the President of the Republic Baldwin Lonsdale formally appointing Marcellino Pipite as the Acting President while he will be out of the country.

Meanwhile, Article 38 of the constitution stated that the President of the Republic may pardon, commute or reduce a sentence imposed on a person convicted of an offence. Parliament may provide for a committee to advise the President in the exercise of this function.

With that, the defense council claimed that the revocation of the pardon was unconstitutional. One of the reasons why they said this was that Marcellino Pipite rightfully exercised his legal presidential powers as accorded in article 38 of the constitution.

The constitutional petition was filed last week by Former Prime Minister Joe Natuman to challenge the legitimacy of the pardon.

 

WATCH: President Revokes Pardon Instrument

 

Picture: http://www.connecticutpardonteam.org/connecticut-may-be-ahead-of-the-curve-when-it-comes-to-pardoning-convicts/

 

 

Commonwealth Secretary-General Emphaisez Importance For Rule Of Law In Vanuatu

THE SECRETARY-GENERAL OF THE COMMONWEALTH, Mr. Kamalesh Sharma, has specifically emphasized the importance of upholding the rule of law amid the current issues in Vanuatu in accordance with the Commonwealth values and principals.

In the statement released on 18 October the Secretary-General stated that;

“The Commonwealth Charter is clear that governments, political parties and civil society are all responsible for upholding and promoting democratic culture and practices. All are accountable to the public,” the Secretary-General said. “The people of Vanuatu understandably and reasonably expect the rule of law and their constitution to prevail.”

In particular, Mr Sharma emphasised the importance attached to political space, “The Commonwealth contributed to a dialogue process for Vanuatu’s political leaders in February 2015, which has produced a road map of political reform to strengthen the country’s democratic processes and institutions. The Commonwealth is committed to working with political leaders and all concerned to take forward these reforms.”

The Secretary-General also commented on the current court proceedings concerning some Members of Parliament. “It is important for all concerned in Vanuatu to be patient, restrained and respectful of the rule of law. That is the Commonwealth way,” he concluded.

Source: http://thecommonwealth.org/media/news/secretary-general-calls-restraint-and-respect-rule-law-vanuatu

Picture: http://newsfirst.lk/english/2014/10/kamalesh-sharma-arrive-sri-lanka/59802

The President Has Revoked The Pardon For Pipite And 13 MP’s Convicted Of Bribery

VIDEO: President Lonsdale Revokes Pardon Instrument

THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF VANUATU has revoked the Pardon Instrument that was signed by Pipite on the 10th of October himself and the thirteen convicted Members of Parliament who were charged guilty of bribery under the Penal Code. ‘

The President said that his decision is based on article sixty six (66) of the national constitution which states that

any person defined as a leader in Article 67 has a duty to conduct himself in such a way, both in his public and private life, so as not to;

a. Place himself in a position in which he has or could have a conflict of interests or in which the fair exercise of his public or official duties might be compromised;

b. Demean his office or position; (c) allow his integrity to be called into question.

c. Endanger or diminish respect for and confidence in the integrity of the Government of the Republic of Vanuatu.

“On this values,”” the President declared, “I have come out to let us all know that the option that I decided on, is to revoke the (Pardon) instrument that the Acting President made and gazetted on 11th October, I make this decisions following this reasons:

  1. Marcelino Pipite at that time when was as the Acting President, he was one of those that was convicted on 9th October 2015, and he exercised the power of my office to pardon himself and the other 13 MP’s that were convicted. Chapter 10 of the Constitution shows clearly, in my opinion, that the Acting President infringed every sub-clause of Article 66 (1).
  1. The Acting President at that time used the power of the Head of State to prevent the course of justice to complete its process, and he decided to issue the “Pardon Instrument”, he never consulted me about it, and he took the advice that came from government legal officers.
  1. The Acting President, through the advice of his legal advisers, pardoned himself along with the 13 MP’s at a time when they were already convicted, they were still on bail, and their Sentence had not yet been announced. Also, following the letter that I had received, the advice for the Pardon Instrument came out from the Minister of Justice which as a result made the Acting President react in a way that has put into question the exercise of the power under Article 38 of the Constitution of the Republic of Vanuatu.

Therefore “following this advice’s, concerning the signature of the Acting President on the Pardoning Order of 10th October 2015,” stated the President, “following advice’s, deep thinking and careful consideration on the situation in my country, I take this time this morning, 16th October 2015, to announce that yesterday 15th October 2015 I revoked the Pardoning Instrument that the Acting President signed on 10th October 2015. I want to inform all the citizens of Vanuatu that, I signed the Revocation of the Pardoning Instrument that the Acting President signed with the hope of bringing back respect and confidence to the exercises of the power under Article 38,” the President declared.

“In the name of Peace and Unity of Vanuatu, I appeal to us all to remain quiet, calm and allow justice to take its course on 22nd October 2015,” the President appeals to the citizens of Vanuatu.

To view or download your copy of the Presidents Statement On Pardon Instrument Revocation click here.

Presidential Revocation

Transparency International Vanuatu Condemns Actions By Pipite. PM Needs To Speak Up.

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TRANSPARENCY INTERNATIONAL VANUATU (TIV) condemns the self-pardoning of the Acting President Marcelino Pipite who was convicted on bribery charges on Friday the 9th along with 13 other Members of Parliament.

The current situation in Vanuatu is serious. The Head of the Government needs to move out from his silent mode and show leadership by letting the citizen of this country know what are his plans following the events that unfolded during the last weekend.

Now that the President of the Republic has spoken to the nation on the 12th of October, deeply apologizing for the uncertainties that were created by the leaders, it is only proper for the Prime Minister to follow the same path by speaking to the nation.

If there was ever a time to talk to the nation live on radio and TV then now would be the most appropriate time.

The Prime Minister needs to explain his government plans, the people deserve the right to know.

Transparency International Vanuatu emphasises that the Prime Minister Sato Kilman needs to look closely at what is happening within his cabinet, he needs to place Vanuatu in a position where other states must not question its national integrity.

Transparency International Vanuatu, as an anti-corruption NGO in Vanuatu, condemns the latest actions, seen as recourse of justice by convicted public officials, and demands that the Prime Minister explain the actions of his cabinet to the people of Vanuatu and his plan in sorting out this impasse.

Meanwhile, Transparency International Vanuatu would like to echo the words of the President to appeal to the leaders of communities, churches and youth groups to continue to remain calm and let justice prevail through the rule of law.

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Transparency International Vanuatu Press Statement


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President Considering Options To Clean Up The ‘Dirt’

THE PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF VANUATU delivered his statement at His Excellency’s Residence this afternoon to a room packed with media personals. In his statement the President emphasized the need to uphold Vanuatu’s national integrity, he further stressed that at the moment Vanuatu’s credibility does not look good, and he deeply apologies for this status that Vanuatu is at, a status that our leaders contributed to create.

“No one is above the law,” he said, “as the Head of the Nation, I want to inform all the people of Vanuatu that I feel deeply sorry for what that has happened in our nation since Friday (9th) until today”.

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President Lonsdale

“I appeal to every respected leader, to advice the people under your responsibility to be calm, and to allow the court to complete its process,” the President appealed. President Lonsdale specifically pointed out that the power to pardon is the prerogative power of the President and no one else, therefore any Acting President must consult with the President if they want to exercise that power.

“Today, fellow citizens, as I am addressing
you, the backyard of the kitchen needs to be cleaned” the President said. “I am considering my options on how I will clean up the dirt after I receive my legal advice’s.”

In the statement the President said that “following the Pardoning Instrument that the Acting President signed I am considering the options that I can take, once I am satisfied. When I make my decision, I will instruct the State Law Office to prepare my choice.”

After the statement by the President he was asked; what would he had done if he was in the country, “do you think you would make the same decision (as the decision by the Acting President)?”, the President’s responded saying that such a decision needed a longer period to make, “there is not enough time for someone to make this kind of decision within this very limited short time, this is a very sensitive issue, it needs careful consideration” he explained. At the end his response was a “No”, he could not have made such a sensitive decision within a very short time frame.

“As the President of the Republic of Vanuatu, I simply ask for one simple request,” he said, “that we must look after our people in the right manner so that our children of tomorrow will live and walk in a good environment”.

To view President Lonsdale’s Statement to the Nation click here.

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14 Members Of Parliament Found Guilty By The Supreme Court Of Vanuatu For Bribery

People outside the Supreme Court.

People outside the Supreme Court.

THE SUPREME COURT has finally delivered its verdict on the Bribery Case that has gathered a lot of attention across Vanuatu and the region. 14 of the 15 defendants were found guilty by the court. TIV was among the dozens that gathered to hear the outcome of one of Vanuatu’s most important court sessions.

In her statement Judge Sey said that she accepted all the evidences provided by the witnesses, she concluded that the evidence by the witnesses were “clear, consistent”. She said “I find it credible, and I accept it”.

Judge Sey declared that she found as an establish fact that the charges under “counts 26, 28, 30, 32, 34, 36, 38, 40, 42, 44, 46, 48, and 50 on the charge of corruption and bribery of officials under section (73) sub-section (1) of the Penal Code Act, that the defendants, as public officials, each of them did corruptly accept or obtain a bribe, namely VT1 million, for himself in respect of an act to be done by him in his official capacity.”

Furthmore, “I accept and find, as an established fact,” Judge Sey delivered, “that in respect of counts… (8 to 25), of the charge of corruption and bribery of official under section (73) sub-section (2) of the Penal Code Act the accused, Moana Carcasses Kalosil, as a public official, did corruptly give or bribe, namely VT 1 million” to the other defendants in the case.”

Judge Sey found and accepted, as an established fact, that a bribe was given by Moana Carcasses Kalosil to the case defendants in their official capacity as public officials. Judge Sey found that when the bribe was given it was intended to influence the other defendants in the capacity as public officials.

The court also found that Tony Nari did corruptly give John Tesei VT 500,000.

“In the result, I therefore find the charges of corruption and bribery of officials, under section (73) sub-section (1) and (2) under the Penal Code Act Cap 135, proved by the prosecution beyond reasonable doubt. And the following accused persons,” namely; Moana Carcasses Kalosil, Silas Yatan, Paul Telukluk, Serge Vohor, Tony Nari, John Amos, Arnold Prasad, Steven Kalsakau, Tony Wright, Sebastien Harry, Thomas Laken, Marcelino Pipite, Jonas James and Jean Yves Chabod “are accordingly convicted as charged. That is the judgement of the court,” Judge Sey announced.

Thus a total of 15 Members of Parliament have been found guilty, including Willie Jimmy who pleaded guilty earlier during the case trials.

The defendants are scheduled to receive their sentencing on Thursday the 22nd of October. Around 500 people gathered outside waiting for the verdict, the blocked streets were packed with people, some sat on the road while others looked on over the fence into the court.

Dozens of people gathered outside waiting to hear the courts decision.

Dozens of people gathered outside waiting to hear the courts decision.