17 Jun 2009

Vanuatu government defeats motion of no-confidence

9:20 am on 17 June 2009

Vanuatu's Edward Natapei-led government has defeated a motion of no-confidence in parliament.

The government won with 28 votes to 18 of the 48 MPs left in parliament following the removal of the four Efate MPs after a Supreme Court ruling, while two MPs abstained from voting.

The opposition had earlier lodged the motion, citing frustration over the performance of the Trade Minister James Bule and controversey over his role in relation to allegedly missing subsidies for copra farmers from late last year.

Our correspondent Len Garae says that in a speech to the house, Mr Natapei gave a rare and impassioned defence of his leadership which appeared to secure his support on the floor:

"His listeners were sympathetic to his decision. he was not involved. he was defending a political partner, he was defending NUP (the National United Party), he wasn't defending his own party. And the Trade Minister came out to reply to them (the opposition) saying that you have no prooof, you have no proof and what you are saying is all baseless, groundless - those are the words that he used."

Meanwhile, parliament is expected to this week debate a motion to remove the speaker, George Wells, whose defection to the opposition with three government coalition MPs this month triggered the motinon of no-confidence against the government.