25 Nov 2014

Vanuatu parliament suspends 16 MPs

8:24 pm on 25 November 2014

Vanuatu's parliament has passed a motion to suspend 16 opposition MPs over alleged bribery.

The Prime Minister Joe Natuman moved the motion, alleging the MPs contravened the Leadership Code in accepting monetary offers from the opposition leader Moana Carcasses.

This follows reports that Mr Carcasses deposited as much as 10,000 US dollars into bank accounts of various MPs, including some government backbenchers.

27 MPs voted for the motion, while 22 voted against it.

Before the vote, Mr Carcasses said the money was deposited as a series of loans and that more than just 16 MPs have been borrowers.

The opposition leader, who didn't reveal the source of his funds, is to seek court intervention on the suspensions as a constitutional matter.

The MPs have been suspended for two sessions of parliament - the current one and the first session of next year in March/April.

Vanuatu opposition leader Moana Carcasses

Vanuatu opposition leader Moana Carcasses Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

During the motion debate, the Prime Minister condemned the payments, linking bribery to the kind of political instability which he says has cost Vanuatu dearly.

Mr Natuman is pushing for police to investigate the matter, and police say they have appointed a special team to look into the allegations.

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