Vanuatu MP pardons overturned
Vanuatu's President, Baldwin Lonsdale, has overturned pardons given to 14 MPs by the politician filling in, in his absence from the country.
In the latest developments in a week long political crisis in Vanuatu a group of 14 MPs have had their pardons, issued last week, revoked.
The 14 MPs, who include the deputy prime minister, Moana Carcasses, had been convicted of in the Supreme Court on Friday last week of giving and receiving corrupt payments.
But on Sunday the acting speaker, Marcellino Pipite, who was one of the convicted MPs, issued pardons for himself and 13 other MPs.
One MP, Willie Jimmy, had pleaded guilty and was not pardoned.
But as Walter Zweifel reports that has now been overturned:
WALTER ZWEIFEL: President Father Baldwin Lonsdale has moved to revoke the pardon issued by the acting president Marcellino Pipite last weekend. He said that the decision made by Mr Pipite last Sunday was against the constitution. It's taken him five days to come up with this conclusion after saying on his return to Vanuatu, the move was not acceptable. He reacted to an outcry by civil society that an MP could move one day after his conviction to pardon himself.
DON WISEMAN: He made this decision on Thursday, it was released to the public in Vanuatu today and it was quite comprehensive wasn't it? It quoted extensively from the constitution.
WZ: Exactly, he pointed out and probably is the key element that there was a conflict of interest that no leader should involve himself in and having the situation of the MP who is convicted and pardoning himself the day after, it's too obvious a case where this goes against the constitution.
DW: It clearly is a most remarkable series of events, yet for the Prime Minister paints it as mountains being made out of molehills?
WZ: Yeah it's quite astonishing that the Prime Minister decided not to say anything for almost a week. He was confronted by journalists during the week, where he spoke at a conference but decided to make no comment. He finally issued a statement suggesting that he himself did not believe in the veracity of this pardon process because he said that he could not make any comment because the matter was before the court. Now if he had accepted that there was a pardon and the matter had been resolved, he could have of course commented either positively or negatively about what had occurred but he decided to say that it was still before the court and that the MPs concerned were considering to appeal the ruling. His comment is also reflecting the fact that there has been no sentencing yet and that is due to be on Thursday.
DW: These MPs, it would seem very unlikely that the are going to just take this as is, we can expect other shenanigans presumably from them?
WZ: We are in a difficult situation because the opposition has lodged a motion of no-confidence and would like to have it debated on Wednesday, that is the day before the sentencing of these 14 MPs. The person who has to approve the motion is Marcellino Pipite who is one of these MPs who has been convicted. Mr Pipite has also been the central figure in this latest drama because he was the person who was the acting
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