3 Jun 2002

New Vanuatu parliament meets for the first time

5:11 pm on 3 June 2002

Vanuatu's Parliament has met for the first time since elections a month and as expected has elected caretaker Prime Minister Edward Natapei to continue in the role.

Mr Natapei heads the Vanuaaku Pati which controls seven of the 13 Cabinet posts in the 52 seat parliament.

The other six ministries go to the VP's coalition partner, the Union of Moderate Parties.

The UMP leader, Serge Vohor, will continue as Deputy Prime Minister, and also be in charge of the Foreign Affairs and Telecommunications portfolios.

Parliament has also elected Henry Taga, who belongs to the UMP, as the new President of the Republic.

Meanwhile, the leader of the Opposition, Barak Sope, tried unsuccessfully to delay the parliamentary sitting, by seeking a constitutional challenge of some election results.

Mr Sope had claimed that the Electoral Commission was involved in fraud when a member of his Melanesian Progressive Party lost his seat after a recount reduced his number of votes by half.