18 Jun 2015

Vanuatu MPs bribery trial on Tuesday

10:53 am on 18 June 2015

The trial of 16 members of the Vanuatu parliament charged with bribery offences is due to be heard in court next Tuesday.

The 16 members belong to the Sato Kilman-led government which came to power last week - nine of them are ministers.

Sato Kilman was elected prime minister after the Moana Carcasses-led opposition moved a motion of no-confidence against the previous prime minister Joe Natuman.

Mr Carcasses admits he has offered loans to MPs from his own funds, but denies they were bribes to lure support for changing government.

The MPs accused of bribery were suspended from parliament last year by Mr Natuman until the Supreme Court ruled the suspension invalid.

The suspension was called undemocratic by Mr Carcasses and was one of the reasons cited in the successful motion against Mr Natuman.

The current opposition immediately lodged a motion of no-confidence against the Kilman government, citing among other concerns the fact that most of its MPs face serious bribery charges.

The new speaker however ruled out the motion on a technicality.

The opposition is seeking legal advice.

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Photo: RNZ / Walter Zweifel