30 Nov 2009

Vanuatu watchdog angry at abuse of standing orders in Prime Minister's ousting

8:16 pm on 30 November 2009

Transparency Vanuatu has voiced concern at the cost to the taxpayer from a ruling by the speaker to strip the Prime Minister Edward Natapei of his seat in parliament.

Mr Natapei missed three consecutive sittings without submitting an authorised written explanation for his absence.

Under Vanuatu's law, this means he must forfeit his seat.

Mr Natapei's lawyers have challenged the speaker's decision in the Supreme Court which is due to make a ruling before parliament resumes next week.

But Transparency's Marie Noelle Ferrieux Patterson says the ruling is another costly example of standing orders of Vanuatu's parliament being manipulated against the interests of democracy.

"New election, another cost; new choice of a Prime Minister, which means likely to have ministers change; new dismissal of ministers who are going to all be paid compensation. We changes three ministers last month or this month and it cost us almost thirty-five million [vatu]. If we change more, then we're going to be in the hundreds of millions. You go in the islands and people are suffering and these guys [politicians] are spending their time only thinking of themsleves, their revenge... it is sickening."

Marie Noelle Ferrieux Patterson