PORT VILA, 13 NOVEMBER 2023 (VANUATU DAILY POST) —Vanuatu Prime Minister Charlot Salwai held discussions with Head of State Nikenike Vurobaravu Friday, following the Council of Ministers’ (COM) decision to recommend the dissolution of the parliament.
The COM, during its meeting Friday, advised President Vurobaravu to dissolve the parliament on Monday, November 13, 2023, citing various reasons.
Principal Private Secretary to the Head of State,Clarence Marae, said that President Vurobaravu carefully assess the request throughout the weekend and is expected to make a decision on the matter this week.
One major concern raised by the COM is the frequent changes in leadership, with Vanuatu having its fourth Prime Minister within a year. The COM highlighted the recent terms of Ishmael Kalsakau, Sato Kilman, and Charlot Salwai, emphasising the current Motion of No Confidence faced by Salwai.
The COM cited the instability caused by Members of Parliament (MPs) consistently moving between governments. Allegedly, these MPs have approached PM Salwai expressing their desire to switch sides again, raising concerns about the government’s stability.
The COM further argued that ongoing investigations, court cases, and Commission of Inquiries (COIs) into misappropriations and corruption implicated a majority of MPs in the Opposition, raising concerns about potential consequences if they return to power.
The COM also noted the potential decrease in the number of Opposition MPs, making stability uncertain. They suggested that the country might face by-elections in various constituencies due to ongoing legal processes, making a general snap election a wise choice.
Economically, the COM noted the challenges faced by Vanuatu, including the aftermath of recent cyclones and a forecasted slowdown in economic growth.
They asserted that the dissolution of parliament would provide an opportunity for the country to focus on recovery efforts.
The COM concluded that the majority of the public is supportive of the decision to dissolve parliament, emphasising the need for stability. Despite the current State of Emergency (SoE), the Office of the Attorney General (AG) Kiel Loughman advised that the President, on the COM’s advice, has the authority to dissolve parliament under specific constitutional provisions.
AG Loughman said the President may on advice of the COM, exercise his power under subarticle 28(3) to dissolve, as subarticle 70(5) does not apply because the current SoE was declared under the Disaster Risk Management Act No. of 23 of 2019.
Subarticle 28(3) of the Constitution provides: “The President of the Republic may, on the advice of the Council of Ministers, dissolve Parliament.” While subarticle 70(5) states, “Parliament may not be dissolved under Article 28(2) or 28(3) during a state of emergency. If the life of a Parliament ends in accordance with Article 28(1) during a state of emergency, the former members of that Parliament may meet for the purpose only of considering the state of emergency until the new Parliament first meets. “
The 12th legislature was dissolved on 18 August 2022 following a similar political scenario.
This development comes just days before the parliament was scheduled to convene and debate a Motion of No Confidence in PM Salwai….PACNEWS