4 Jun 2007

Vanuatu minister Wells defects to another coalition party

1:07 pm on 4 June 2007

Vanuatu's Minister for Internal Affairs, George Wells, has defected from the country's oldest political party, the Vanuaaku Pati.

He says instability within the VP caused by continued opposition to his position in the party, and as Minister, is behind his move to join another government coalition partner, the National United Party, or NUP.

VP Backbenchers have been pushing for Mr Wells' removal for years and this year the VP disciplinary committee recommended his suspension from the party for breaching the leadership code, citing issues in his private life.

But as a long-time VP member, Mr Wells says his hard work in helping the party grow has not been recognised.

"So I cannot cope with such a situation. It's taking all of my time for nearly three years - 60 percent of my time is just dealing with the internal problems of the party. So it's not easy for me to take such a decision but I have to do it, also for my health, and also for my people in Luganville town - it's their wish."

George Wells' defection reportedly gives the NUP eleven MPs in the 52-seat house, while the VP drops to ten.