12 Jun 2015

Regenvanu rejects aid relief in Vanuatu was slow

9:52 am on 12 June 2015

The Lands Minister in the ousted Vanuatu government, Ralph Regenvanu, has rejected the new government's claim concerning the distribution of relief aid after Cyclone Pam in March.

Ralph Regenvanu

Ralph Regenvanu Photo: WikiCommons / Marke Lowen

Joe Natuman was removed as prime minister after three members of his coalition government sided with the opposition to pass a motion of confidence against him.

Sato Kilman, who was sacked as foreign minister the previous week, was subsequently elected as the new prime minister.

One of the reasons cited for the motion was controversy over the distribution of post-cyclone aid, that it was too slow and imbalanced in favour of the former pime minister Natuman's province.

However Mr Regenvanu says this doesn't stack up.

"Well, I don't think the concern about distribution of relief supplies was valid because Vanuatu was praised internationally about how they handled that, and how the government was dealing with the aftermath of Cyclone Pam, and so we consider that as much better evaluation of our efforts than what is in the opposition's motion."

Mr Regenvanu says a main reason for the removal was to derail a serious court case against a group of MPs over bribery allegations.

"In my view that was the main reason for the motion, was to try and prevent the court case against the 19 members of the opposition which goes to court tomorrow (Friday), starts trial tomorrow. That's a serious charge and a very solid case too. If it got through, those MPs would be convicted and lose their seats and wouldn't be able to stand in the next election."

The new government

  • Prime Minister: Sato Kilman Livtunvanu (People's Progress Party)
  • Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Tourism: Moana Carcasses Kalosil (Greens)
  • Minister of Finance: Willie Jimmy Tapangararua, (Independent)
  • Minister of Internal Affairs: Hosea Nevu, (Iauko Group)
  • Minister of Foreign Affairs: Serge Vohor Raliuth (Union of Moderates)
  • Minister of Health: Morkin Steven Iatika (Union of Moderates)
  • Minister of Agriculture: Christopher Emelee (Vanuatu National Party)
  • Minister of Public Work: Tony Nari (Iauko Group)
  • Minister of Lands: Paul Telukluk (Reunification of Movement for Change)
  • Minister of Education: Alfred Carlot (Natatok)
  • Minister of Climate Change: Thomas Laken (Greens)
  • Minister of Youth and Sport: Toara Daniel Kalo (Greens)
  • Minister of Justice: Dunstan Hilton (People's Progress Party)
Sato Kilman - pictured during a visit to Russia in March 2015

New Prime Minister Sato Kilman Photo: Vladimir Pesnya / RIA Novosti

Change of government could affect cyclone recovery

A Vanuatu-based academic says yesterday's change of government could have implications for the country's recovery from Cyclone Pam.

The founder of Devpacific Thinknet, Tess Newton Cain, says the previous government had just put together a two-year recovery programme for the country which was being considered by the council of ministers.

She says it's not clear if Mr Kilman's government will oversee a change in tactics.

"That was going to form the basis of working with donors and lenders about financing, reconstruction and rehabilitation of things like schools and health facilities and infrastructure. So I guess that's what we'll be looking to first is to what happens to that plan, whether it's progressed in its current form or whether it will be held back for review and reformulation by the new government."

Yesterday's change is the 9th change of Prime Minister in Vanuatu in five years, with no confidence motions being a regular feature in the country's politics.

Ousted Vanuatu Prime Minister Joe Natuman

Ousted Prime Minister Joe Natuman Photo: RNZI / Kim Baker-Wilson