The National Coordinator of the Union of Moderate Parties (UMP), Georgio Carlo, has confirmed that the names of two candidates have been endorsed for the Port Vila constituency.
They are Leader of Opposition, Ishmael Kalsakau and Saby Natonga.
UMP Port Vila Regional Executive President, Alick Noel, told Daily Post that Mr. Natonga was the first to apply to contest in the upcoming general elections in the Port Vila Constituency.
Two other names which were received later by the office of UMP were Tony Iauko, UMP municipal councilor in the Southern Ward, and Wendy Himford, said Mr. Noel.
The UMP regional leader in Port Vila initially said he never received an application from the Leader of the Opposition, “but if he wishes to apply and gives his application, it will be proper to be dealt with by the national executive of the party”.
Natonga’s name was endorsed during the Regional Executive meeting on Saturday at Freshwota.
The purpose of the meeting attended by around one hundred people, including those who have mandate to carry out duties on behalf of UMP in Port Vila Constituency, was to submit the names of the applicants to the regional congress for discussion and endorsement.
Many mandates wanted Mr. Natonga and Mr. Kalsakau. At the end of the discussions, the chairman of the meeting who is also president of Port Vila UMP Regional Council, Alick Noel, had to take a strong stand to limit the number of candidates for submission to the national congress for approval.
The former mayor of Port Vila justified his stand, saying “UMP is sick and deserves political attention. It is our responsibility to build it back to the level it was when it took over the government in 1991.”
“Whether it will be proper to have only one or two candidates,” he said. “We have to face the reality. We must not get fooled by our dreams”.
Mr. Noel’s prognostic must be based on the results of 2016 snap elections when the Leader of Opposition won more than two thousand votes while the other UMP candidate, Ulrich Sumptoh lost the battle with more than seven hundred votes.
Since the last legislative race, the support of UMP seems to decrease in Port Vila as many supporters have shown their support to RMC.
The UMP must also take into consideration the fact that the number of seats in Port Vila Constituency has been reduced from six to five and for one of the longest political parties in Vanuatu to win two seats is something that could not happen easily.
But the UMP can also count on the final outcome of the appeal between the parliamentary opposition and the government concerning the appointment of parliamentary secretaries. An appeal has been prepared and is to be submitted for hearing soon as announced by the parliamentary opposition last week.
The view from political observers who anticipate the final judgement of the case is on Kalsakau’s side: If the only remaining MP from UMP succeeds, Port Vila is behind him as too many residents in the capital don’t want to see politicians abusing their power for their personal interests. Many have said publicly that if the final judgement from the Court of Appeal is a favor on his side, they would back him up in 2020 general elections.
It is not only in the Port Vila constituency that UMP faced difficulty in endorsing its candidates. On Malekula, the party had to decide between three names: Anicet Maleb from Vao, Peter Manwo from Atchin and Robert Damassing from Lamap.