18 Jun 2009

TI Vanuatu says gifting undermines governance

3:16 pm on 18 June 2009

Transparency International Vanuatu says local people have to be taught to distinguish between parliament and village in order to rid the electoral system of the practice of gifting in exchange for votes.

TI's Marie-Noelle Ferrieux-Patterson has applauded this week's Supreme Court ruling to remove four MPs from parliament after they were found to have used inducements to win their seats.

Ms Ferrieux-Patterson says while the practice of gifting to induce votes in their constituencies is widespread in Vanuatu politics, it is against the law.

"Gifts, gifts, gifts. You have to pay your voters and it's destroying everything, even the members of parliament themselves because you have to pay so much money all the time, give so many favours. It's limitless and that pushes members of parliament to want a position in government so they have access to power so they can find ways to access money, cash money, by whatever means they can, so they pay their voters."

Marie-Noelle Ferrieux-Patterson says citizens have to learn to elect leaders on leadership and policy merits and not on how many kickbacks they or their community get.