logo
Vanuatu

Elections to proceed in Vanuatu

Vanuatu will go to the polls once again to decide on a government as an application to challenge the decision of the president Nikenike Vurobaravu to dissolve the parliament was quashed by the Supreme Court.

The general elections will happen on October 3 and voters will once again go to the polls just after two years since the government was elected.

There is a caretaker government in place to run the affairs of the nation and this has also led to the president representing the nation at the United Nations general assembly.

Chief Justice Vincent Lunabek said the court was not concerned with the desirability or undesirability of any particular course of action.

He said it only considered whether the rights and responsibilities enshrined in the constitution have been lawfully and properly exercised plus whether the law as created by parliament has been given effect.

The applicants submitted that the Council of Ministers was not competent to advise the president to dissolve the parliament and that the advice of the COM was a fundamental conflict of interest contrary to article 66(1) of the constitution, as the prime minister stood to benefit from the dissolution because it stopped the applicants from moving and voting on the motion.

The applicants submitted that as a result of the incompetent decision by the Council of Ministers, it rendered the decision by the president to dissolve the parliament invalid and unconstitutional.

The respondents submitted that based on the facts, there was no substantive evidence to support the allegation of conflict of interest on the part of the prime minister.

Picture: Vanuatu Parliament
Vanuatu will go to the polls once again to decide on a government as an application to challenge the decision of the president Nikenike Vurobaravu to dissolve the parliament was quashed by the Supreme Court. Picture: Vanuatu Parliament

The respondents submitted that the proposition of the applicants was flawed because the provision to dissolve the parliament was a collective decision.

They submitted the prime minister had no control in the act of dissolving parliament which was a discretionary power vested on the president alone.

“In this present case, there were no constitutional infringements on the part of the Council of Ministers when it resolved and advised the president to dissolve parliament. Equally, there was no constitutional infringement on thepart of the president of the Republic when he proceed to dissolve the parliament pursuant to Article 28(3) of the constitution,” ruled Justice Lanabek.

Vanuatu Government spokesperson Fred Vurobaravu said the decision was welcomed by the government as the rights provided by the constitution had been upheld.

“The Government believes that the best option forward is to reset through the snap elections,’’ he said.

Election date announced amid chaos – 9 September 2022

The dates for an election have been announced in Vanuatu, before a ruling on the legality of the dissolution of its parliament has been decided by the Supreme Court.

The Vanuatu Electoral Commission on Wednesday announced October 13 as the date for the polls which is within the 60 day timeframe required by the Constitution.

At the end of this week, the Supreme Court will make a decision on the application by 27 members of parliament who had called for a motion for a vote of no confidence against Prime Minister Bob Loughman.

Mr Loughman evaded the first bout by boycotting parliament and then asked the President Nikenike Vurobaravu to dissolve parliament because political instability was hampering the nations economy.

The dates for an election have been announced in Vanuatu, before a ruling on the legality of the dissolution of its parliament has been decided by the Supreme Court. Picture: Parliament of Vanuatu

Mr Vurobaravu dissolved parliament on August 19, a day before the motion of no confidence was to take place in parliament.

If the court’s decision is that the actions of the president were legal and justified then over 300,000 registered voters are likely to vote on October 13.

Candidate nominations will open September 12 and close September 21. The official campaign period will begin October 1 with the final list of candidates to contest the election also being made public that same day.

Campaigning will close at midnight on October 10 and polling will commence on Thursday, October 13. Political parties in Vanuatu have been busy and have already lined up candidates.

A correspondent in Vanuatu said Mr Loughman and his party have already started campaigning.

According to Vanuatu’s past election results, newer candidates have greater chances of getting into the parliament. In 2004 only 28 of the then former 52 MPs won their seats again. This was also repeated in 2020.

If the past results are something to go by, Mr Loughman who is the caretaker prime minister has a very low chance of coming back as the leader of the party.

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

Former opposition leader Ralph Regenvanu said the winds of change were blowing and the people of Vanuatu wanted a new government which was honest and reliable.

Among the five reasons outlined in a paper given to parliament for the motion of no confidence included Mr Loughman’s attempt at making changes to government structure, lack of transparency in tender processes, and mismanagement of government programs and scholarships.

Vanuatu still without a government – 6 September 2022

Vanuatu remains without an elected government and this could continue until an early election, while the balance of power is now in the hands of the Supreme Court.

The highest court in the land will deliver its verdict on an urgent constitutional application querying the decision of Prime Minister Bob Loughman to dissolve parliament, on September 9.

The application was brought by 27 former opposition MPs, who had filed a motion of no confidence in Loughman before he dissolved Vanuatu’s parliament.

Chief Justice Vincent Lunabek said he would need time to consider the submissions from lawyers for both sides on Friday.

The lawyer representing the members of parliament Edward Nalyal told the court the decision of the council of ministers to advise the president to dissolve the parliament was unlawful.

Vanuatu PM Bob Loughman (R) with Fijian PM Voreqe Bainimarama. The highest court in the land will deliver its verdict on an urgent constitutional application querying the decision of Prime Minister Bob Loughman to dissolve parliament, on September 9. Picture: Fijian Government

Justice Lunabek told him he needed to show that this advice was unlawful.

Mr Nalyal told the court the 27 members of parliament deposited a motion of no confidence and another calling for an extraordinary session to debate it on August 8.

He said that the motion was declared in order by the Speaker on August 9. He told the court that four days later, Mr Loughman asked the Speaker to declare the motion was not in order.

He said when the Speaker didn’t respond to Mr Loughman, the Council of Ministers advised the president to dissolve parliament.

This dissolution came less than a day before parliament was due to meet to debate the no-confidence motion.

Solicitor general, Frederick Giru asked the court to dismiss the constitutional application because the complainants failed to prove the advice given by the council of ministers to the president was unlawful.

If the court rules in favour of the 27 members of parliament, Mr Loughman’s time as the prime minister is over. Opposition member Ralph Regenvanu believes the nation is asking for change in leadership.

If the application is quashed, the nation will look forward to fresh general elections which should take place within 60 days after the parliament is dissolved.

Many feel that president Nikenike Vurobaravu considered the decision because he was a political appointment of the Loughman administration.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

You may also like

Send this to a friend