The head of the Vanuatu Government has assured that the government is secure.
Prime Minister Charlot Salwai conveyed this during a press conference at the PM’s Office on Tuesday afternoon, as recent political developments saw MP Sato Kilman and the Opposition forming a new political bloc.
Based on the issues raised by the new bloc, PM Salwai has confirmed seeking legal advice concerning the issue of Vacation of Seats, in relation to Deputy Prime Minister Joe Natuman’s case.
He has also written to the Speaker to determine this, in accordance with relevant laws pertaining vacation of seats by a MP and if need be, clarification by the Court should be sought.
He said if MP Kilman and Leader of Opposition, Ishmael Kalsakau wish to dispute the issue, they should take up the matter in court instead of questioning the office of the prime minister.
“The DPM’s 2- year sentence was suspended and we need more clarification by the Court as to whether the person concerned has forfeited all his rights or can still hold office and request the Speaker of Parliament if he sees fit, to extend another 150 days in office. The Vacation of Seat aspect is not clear, he said.
“We have sought legal opinion on The Members of Parliament Vacation of Seats Act, Section 3.2 that states maintenance of rights but we will need clarification of the Court on the matter. I have already written a letter to the Speaker of Parliament and the DPM.
“However, it is sad to see Members of Parliament are continuously manipulated and creating instability in the country and putting their integrity as MPs in question.”
The PM said it is also sad to see veteran political leaders continue to mislead young leaders and their people with allegations that are baseless . He said his government has seen major developments within a period of two years.
“In terms of development, it is up to the people of Vanuatu to judge whether there has been developments or not but to say the least, we had major developments that has taken place, for instance the Van2017, a really big event that has put Vanuatu on the map, we have the Tanna and Malekula road projects, and many other projects,” he said.
He also gave examples of other major infrastructure projects such as the Tanna Airport, Port Vila International airport, the Norsup airport, Santo international airports,Lonoror and Longana airports as well as wharves.Other projects have been hindered because of land issues.
“This government has also rolled out free education for Years 7, 8 and kindergarten to give all children access to education and will be doing Years 9 and 10 in the near future. In terms of health, we have hospitals and clinics around the country up and running, although we still need improvement in services, we are paying off our civil servants their entitlements which is required by the law and this government does not tolerate violation of the law it has put in place.”
PM Salwai said the issue of the long time outstanding benefits for public servants, many of whom have died, was addressed by this government. He gave examples of nurses, teachers and other retired public servants whose severance entitlements were settled by this government.
He said any change of government will not be for the betterment of this country, as there is only a year left before the country goes to poll in 2020.
The PM said everyone should be appreciative that this government has been stable and defeated several motions over two years.
“We cannot put the country back to what we have experience in 2015 nor the previous years, it will be a setback for the country and another costly exercise that I know the people of this country are tired of and want to see stability and more development in their country, he said.
“And whether this new bloc has the majority, its up to the MPs as its their right. But i assure you that this government will do all it can in its capacity to ensure continuous stability in the country.”
PM Salwai said MP Kilman’s bloc can also be seen as creating political instability because it is trying to undermine the stability, progress and the development of the present government.
On the question of what would he as Prime Minister would do regarding MP Kilman’s move to form a bloc with the Opposition Leader, PM Salwai said it is up to MP Kilman .
He cautioned the MPs in the new bloc to think carefully because they will have to be accountable to their voters when the country goes to election in 2020.
“The people will judge whether the MP they voted for had actually achieved the goals set during their term, today the people of Vanuatu realize and make judgement themselves, not the politicians,” PM Salwai concluded.
The Leader of Opposition has issued a statement to local media concerning the same matter yesterday afternoon.
In the statement, MP Kalsakau cautioned the Speaker of Parliament to “steer clear away from any attempt to use the law for the sake of politics but to be guided only by the provisions of the Act”.
According to the statement, the Opposition is considering filing a complaint pursuant to the Leadership code against the PM for allegedly attempting to interfere with the Speaker’s observation of the law.
In his press conference, PM Salwai stressed that he had obtained legal advice on the matter before writing to the Speaker of Parliament.