16 Dec 2015

Dissolution of Vanuatu parliament confirmed

4:35 pm on 16 December 2015

The Vanuatu Supreme Court has rejected an opposition bid to overturn the dissolution of parliament.

Former members of the opposition and Kenneth Natapei, who was elected but not sworn in, challenged last month's decision by President Baldwin Lonsdale to dissolve the parliament and force a snap election.

Today, Justice Dudley Aru ruled that the dissolution was lawful but gave the opposition 48 hours to appeal.

The poll is set for 22 January.

The president's lawyer, and the lawyer for the Republic of Vanuatu, argued that the president had applied his discretionary power and the former MPs did not need to be consulted.

Father Lonsdale dissolved parliament after weeks of political stalemate triggered by the bribery conviction of 14 government MPs, who are now in jail.

The opposition leader, Joe Natuman, says the opposition is now thinking about next month's election but may challenge the ruling.

"If we go into the election then that's it, we're not going to make any [appeal] because the court has only given 48 hours so there's no time to do that. We'll probably concentrate on the election process but we'll see when we go and have a meeting now where we will decide with our lawyers whether or not to launch an appeal in 48 hours."

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