Natuman to let Vanua'aku Pati rank and file decide leadership
Vanuatu's former prime minister Joe Natuman is philosophical about the transitional stage regarding the leadership of the country's opposition as well as its biggest political party, the Vanua'aku Pati, after the recent death of Edward Natapei left vacancies in both positions.
Vanuatu's former prime minister Joe Natuman says it is up to the members of the Vanua'aku Pati as to who will be the next leader of the country's biggest and oldest political party.
Mr Natuman was replaced as prime minister by Sato Kilman in June this year following a successful motion of no-confidence against him, a little over a year into his tenure, sending him and the VP into opposition.
Since then, the leader of the opposition, and VP President, Edward Natapei passed away, which Mr Natuman describes a great loss for the party in terms of his wise leadership.
Mr Natuman spoke to Johnny Blades about the processes for filling the vacancy in both positions.
JOE NATUMAN: I am now the... as per our constitution I will be acting until the next congress meeting which is next year and then the congress will elect a new President of the party. I am the vice president so as of at the moment I will be acting or interim president of the party until the next congress elect a party leader.
JOHNNY BLADES: Do you put yourself forward as a candidate or is that up to the executive of your party?
JN: Well it is usually up to the congress, its a free call and people come from all over the island. Then the subcommittee will put forward the name and they will vote for it. The congress will elect the President of the Party.
JB: How about in the parliamentary opposition. Mr Natapei was the opposition leader. Who's the leader now, is it Ham Lini or is it yourself?
JN: Well yeah because Vanua'aku Pati is the biggest group in Parliament with nine members of parliament now we have eight since we lost him. But Vanua'aku Pati is still the biggest group in parliament and Ham Lini was the deputy leader (of the opposition) so for the moment our caucus in the opposition; all the political parties in the opposition decided that Ham Lini will continue as acting leader of the opposition until the coming parliament is likely to happen in October/November then when all the MPs are in town, all the opposition MPs are in town, they will now decide. They will decide then who will be the leader of the opposition.
JB: Now obviously your supreme court is looking at this very serious case involving the group of MPs mainly in government who are accused of bribery. Without wanting you to comment on the case, things could change, the government really could collapse depending on the outcome of this case and you must surely be one of the candidates for prime minister if there was to be a change? Do you want to be back in the seat, you had just started your work (as prime minister) really hadn't you?
JN: Well I mean it's really up to the opposition who they would like to put forward. But you know I cannot comment any further. You know, we have done some good work in the past and since the cyclone. And now things are not moving as far as reconstruction is concerned so I am worried about that and the whole economy, you know, we need to push forward in terms of economic recovery as well. But as to if there were to be a change of government the opposition will decide who they wish to put forward.
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