18 Jun 2004

Traditional political rivals in Vanuatu draw closer to re-uniting

2:25 pm on 18 June 2004

Two traditional political rivals in Vanuatu are joining forces to fight the election in what one leader says is the start of a possible merger to foster economic growth.

A faction of the Vanuaaku Pati, led by the Prime Minister Edward Natapei, and the National United Party, which joined the Government six months ago, have agreed to a joint campaign for the July 6th election.

The leader of the NUP, Willie Jimmy, says the move is the start of a possible reunification of the two parties.

He says economic growth in Vanuatu has been slow because of political instability.

"It's time we decided that we start showing some concern on the importance of stability. And it can only be done through major political parties unifying, and trying to achieve that."

Mr Jimmy says his party made a commitment to work with its rival before the Vanuaaku Pati split and a breakaway faction was formed by the former prime minister, Donald Kalpokas.

He is unfazed about the split and says he believes the parties have enough in common to work together.