Charlot Salwai Tabimasmas, Member of Parliament for Pentecost and leader of the Reunification of Movements for Change (RMC), is the new Prime Minister of the Republic of Vanuatu.

Salwai was elected in a secret ballot by 46 of the 52 members of the new Parliament of the Republic of Vanuatu yesterday.

Six votes were declared void. This meant that 14 MPs on the Government’s side of the bench also voted for the new Prime Minister.

He was nominated by MP for Tanna, Joe Natuman and seconded by MP for Pentecost, Ham Lini and he was the sole candidate for the position of Prime Minister because the former Government side of former Prime Minister, Sato Kilman, did not nominate a candidate.

Later on, following his election in Parliament, the new Prime Minister appointed 12 members of his cabinet. They are: Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Tourism, Industries and Trade, Joe Natuman; Gaeton Pikioune, Minister for Finance and Economic Management; Jotham Napat, Minister for Industries and Public Utilities; Ralph Regenvanu, Minister of Lands; Toara Daniel, Minister of Health; Alfred Maoh, Minister of Internal Affairs; Bruno Leingkone, Minister of Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation and External Trade; Jean-Pierre Nirua, Minister of Education; Matai Seremiah, Minister of Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry, Fisheries and Biosecurity; Ronald Warsal, Minister of Justice and Community Services; Ham Lini Vanuaroroa, Minister of Climate Change; and Nato Taiwia, Minister of Youth and Sports.

Earlier, the first sitting of the new MPs voted in the new Speaker of the Parliament of the Republic of Vanuatu. He is MP for Malekula, Esmon Saimon.

Following which the First, Second, Third and Fourth Deputy Speakers were also elected and they are respectively: Edwin Macreveth, MP for Santo; Havo Moli, MP for Malo; Alickson Vira, MP for Ambae; and Marcellino Barthelemy, MP for Malekula.

Following the official declaration of the names of the elected representatives of the constituencies, two groups of MPs jostled for numbers to form government right up to Wednesday night, with both groups claiming sufficient numbers on their sides. One was made up of the remaining members of the Caretaker government of Prime Minister Sato Kilman, UMP, Iauko Group and their Independent supporters and the other by Vanua’aku Pati, National United Party, Graon mo Justice Party, RMC, Nagriamel and their Independents supporters.

Each of them had claimed some 32 MPs right up to this morning when it was obvious the second group of VP, NUP, GJP, RMC, Nagriamel and their group of Independents showed up with 31 MP, which quickly increased to 32, and later 34 members during the course of the sitting.

The names of the Government MPs are: Gaeton Pikioune, MP for Santo; Matai Seremaiah, MP for Luganville; Albert William, MP for Ambrym; Ham Lini, MP for Pentecost; Ralph Regenvanu, MP for Port Vila; Jotham Napat, MP for Tanna; Andrew Napuat, MP for Tanna; Rick Marco Mahe, MP for Santo; Fred William Tasso, MP for Paama; Jacob Mata, MP for Ambae; Jerry Kanas, MP for Efate; Jean-Pierre Nirua, MP for Port Vila; Bob Loughman, MP for Tanna; Edwin Macreveth, MP for Santo; John Sala, MP for Malekula; Nato Taiwia, MP for Efate; Ronald Warsal, MP for Santo; Esmon Saimon, MP for Malekula; Gracia Chadrack, MP for Malekula; Charlot Salwai, MP for Pentecost; Alickson Viralone, MP for Ambae Silas Melve Bule, MP for Pentecost; Toara Daniel, MP for Shepherds; Kenneth Natapei, MP for Port Vila; Havo Molisale, MP for Malo; Marcellino Barthelemy, MP for Malekula; Bruno Lengkone, MP for Ambrym; Francois Channi, MP for Pentecost; Ian Wilson, MP for Maewo; and Johnny Rasou Koanapo, MP for Tanna; and newcomers to the group Norris Kalmet, MP for Efate; and Jerome Ludvaunne, MP for Malekula.

Those in the new Opposition are: Christopher Eemelee, MP for Torres; Don Ken, MP for Malekula; Joshua Kalsakau, MP for Efate; Jack Wona, MP for Banks Group; Marc Ati, MP for Luganville; Seoule Davidson Simeon, MP for Epi; Tomker Naling Netvunei, MP for Tafea Outer Islands; Hosea Nevu, MP for Santo; Jay Ngwele, MP for Ambae; Kalo Pakoasongi, MP for Tongoa; Kalo Seule, MP for Port Vila; Tom Nouam, MP for Tanna; Ephraim Kalsakau, MP for Port Vila, Nakou Natuman, MP for Tanna; Alatoi Ishmael Kalsakau, MP for Port Vila; Isaac Daniel Tongoliliu, MP for Epi; and Sato Kilman, MP for Malekula, Samson Samsen - a total of 18 MPs.

Speaking after his election, Prime Minister Salwai thanked all the MPs who voted for him and those in the parties in the coalition that have supported him, for their confidence in him. He also thanked the leaders of those political parties in his coalition for the experience gained in working alongside them over the past few years during their cooperation.

The new Prime Minister congratulated the new Speaker and the Deputy Speakers in their elections and all the members of parliament for their successes from the snap election.

“The election was held successfully and the people of Vanuatu, the chiefs, the leaders and the women have gone through trying times in recent months following which they have voted for change. Over 60% of this new house is made up of new members, meaning that the people want us the Members of Parliament to work for change to help them improve their lives,” he said.

This first sitting of the 11th Legislature was held also to swear-in the 52 new MPs, who took their Oath of Member of Parliament administered by Chief Justice Vincent Lunabek, and the election of the Speaker and Deputy Speakers and the Prime Minister whose Oaths of Office and Oaths of Allegiance were administered by the Acting Attorney General Angeline Saul. Also at the sitting the new MPs signed the Roll of Members of Parliament.

Jonas Cullwick, a former General Manager of VBTC is now a Senior Journalist with the Daily Post. Contact: jonas@dailypost.vu. Cell # 678 5460922

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