Vanuatu crisis worsens

Ousted members of parliament in Vanuatu have questioned the legality of the decision made by the President Nikenike Vurobaravu to dissolve the parliament.

Former opposition leader Ralph Regenvanu has confirmed he and the other former members of parliament who signed a motion against the prime minister have made an application in the court seeking redress.

A motion of no confidence was filed in parliament by at least 27 members. Following this prime minister Bob Loughman approached the president and asked him to dissolve the parliament as the current political instability was affecting the economy.

Mr Loughman and his government boycotted the Monday sitting of parliament and by doing this ensured that there was not enough numbers to form a quorum. The sitting was moved to Friday but on Thursday evening parliament was dissolved.

The Vanuatu Parliament House in Port Vila. Picture: Vanuatu Parliament

Mr Regenvanu said the situation was not democratic and infringed on their rights and the constitutional democratic process of this country, by “a government trying to cling onto power by all means necessary.”

He said now the court would determine if this becomes a precedent whereby any future government facing a motion can seek the president to dissolve the parliament, rather than face the motion.

“There have been a number of dissolution of Parliament that have been judged by the Court and the Court have always upheld the power of the President. We believe this case is different from other cases,” he said.

“This is the first case where the majority of the legislators have requested a session of Parliament, had deposited a motion and the session was already well underway at that time the Executive made the decision to request the President to dissolve Parliament.

Ralph Regenvaru (L) has challenged the dissolution of parliament. Picture: Ralph Regenvanu Facebook

“Even though all the precedent has ruled in the favor of the President, there’s special circumstance to this case. It’s important for us to test again the legality of the dissolution by the President. “

Mr Vurobaravu’s appointment has been seen as purely political as no other head of state prior to him was a civil servant.

The role usually had gone to a high chief or a church elder. Many feel the decision was biased because Mr Vurobaravu was the nomination of the Government.

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Mr Regenvanu has also questioned the timing of the request for a dissolution. He said only after Mr Loughman realised that his days in power were over, a request for the dissolution was made.

No dates have been given as to when the court will announce its decision however Mr Loughman and his cabinet ministers have formed a caretaker government.

Fresh elections must be called within 60 days of the dissolution of parliament and while this time frame is in the constitution, campaigning has already began in Vanuatu.

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