12 Dec 2008

Vanuatu Finance Minister defends PM over reported pressure to step down

2:02 pm on 12 December 2008

A senior Vanuatu government minister has defended the Prime Minister Edward Natapei against speculation he is under pressure to step down from within the ruling coalition.

In the three months since he formed the coalition, there have been four attempted motions of no-confidence against Nr Natapei.

At least two of these motions have had the support of disgruntled members of Mr Natapei's own Vanua'aku Pati, or VP.

Local media has speculated that factionalism within the coalition continues to put pressure on Mr Natapei to step down as leader before parliament resumes next year.

However the Finance Minister, and veteran VP member, Sela Molisa, says apart from on dissenting MP who has been censured, the party and coalition is united behind Mr Natapei.

"I don't know where they're getting that from. He's not under pressure from any of the coalition partners. Everyone is happy. The division was (from) our MP from Tanna, the new MP Harry Iauko, he's been chucked out of the party now so there's no issue any more."

Sela Molisa