Clarity still sought over Vanuatu leader's decision
Former Vanuatu MPs are considering an appeal to clarify constitution issues arising from the decision to dissolve parliament, but not to stop the election in January from going ahead.
The 24 former Vanuatu MPs who unsuccessfully sought to overturn the president's decision to order new elections may still appeal.
But spokesman Ralph Regenvanu says they have no intention of trying to stop next month's election from going ahead.
On Wednesday Justice Dudley Aru ruled that President Baldwin Lonsdale's decision last month was lawful and that the former MPs did not need to be consulted beforehand.
The judge gave the applicants 48 hours to appeal but Mr Regenvanu told Hilaire Bule that they may endeavour to make one later - to clarify constitutional issues, rather than disrupt the poll set for January 22nd.
RALPH REGENVANU: Our lawyers will be writing to the court to say that we will not be appealing to the court within 48 hours as requested by the court. We will request the normal 30 day period to lodge an appeal and then we will consider whether we will lodge an appeal or not. We will not be seeking in our appeal any orders regarding reversal of the dissolution or cancellation of the snap election or anything like that. The only reason that we may appeal is because we want legal confirmation of some of the constitutional issues raised by this case. So that is the reason we would be appealing it is more to confirm the legal precedent for the powers of the president rather than to seek to quash the dissolution. So we will now be going for the snap election we are preparing for that and we may lodge appeal next month within the 30 day period, with the expectation that it won't be an urgent application it will be heard in the normal appeal court time which is probably March. To repeat the reason that we are appealing is just to get legal confirmation on some issues which we feel need to be sorted out so that there is a proper precedent for the use of the presidential powers in the future.
HILAIRE BULE: So you are claiming that some of your point raised in your submission or your claim has not been noted by the Judge?
RR: Well I mean there are a number of constitutional issues that were raised in the case that the judge basically said that the discretionary powers of the President overrode all of those considerations. One being that for example that the second ordinary session of parliament had already been called so the members of parliament had a constitutional right to go to parliament as it had already been called. There was the right of Kenneth Natapei who had been elected by over 4000 people and had not been confirmed through a swearing in in parliament. There was the issue that the constitution requires a budget to be passed and the decision for dissolution had basically breached that section of the constitution it breached the requirement for the second ordinary session which had already been called which was also a constitutional requirement. There was also the issue of the discretion the president has upon receiving advice from the council of ministers. In this case the president chose to wait until the decision of an appeal court in a criminal case. Whereas the constitution says once he receives the advice he should act upon it. And the two past dissolutions that happened in Vanuatu the president always acted on the advice of the council of ministers on the same day he received it or the following day. In this case there was a five week break. So these are some of the issues that maybe we will appeal to get some better legal precedent on them. Not just the supreme court we would prefer the appeal court to make these decisions.
HB: Yesterday Justice Harold gave you 48 hour. What is the normal time to make an appeal?
RR: I believe the normal time is 30 days, the justice said 48 hours because of the snap election that is coming up. The fact that the applications for candidates to contest the elections closes tomorrow within that 48 hours so it was simply because there was this snap election coming up within the next month. So I think it was the idea was that if we chose to appeal it could affect the outcome of that election. But now we have decided that we will not be contesting the fact that there will be an election. We will just later on contest some of the legal issues and if we do win the appeal on some of those issues there will be no consequences of it. It will just be a precedent for the future.
To embed this content on your own webpage, cut and paste the following: