30 Jul 2007

Vanuatu coalition claims majority support after reshuffle

3:39 pm on 30 July 2007

Vanuatu's coalition government says it has a majority in the 52-seat parliament following the latest reshuffle.

In a number of changes made last night, the Prime Minister Ham Lini appointed Edward Natapei as his new deputy.

Mr Lini dismissed Sato Kilman from the position and removed him from the foreign affairs portfolio which is being taken over by Luganville MP George Wells.

Mr Natapei's appointment sees his Vanuaaku Pati, or VP, return to the government after leaving the coalition nearly two months ago.

The Union of Moderate Parties, which had effectively replaced VP in the government, has now been ejected from the government as part of the reshuffle.

Little is known of the reasons behind Sato Kilman and his People's Progressive Party's removal.

But Mr Wells says the UMP leader Serge Vohor's uncooperative attitude accounted for their departure.

"The coalition government of the government is stable. We have a number (of MPs in parliament) of about thirty-two. A simple majority is about twenty-seven but we have large number, and are expecting another two or three to join the government again from the opposition."