Vanuatu govt lobbying fluid despite pact signing
An agreement to look to form a coalition government has been signed by most of Vanuatu's leading political groups, comprising around 36 of the 52 MPs elected in last month's snap election, but the numbers involved remain fluid.
A Vanuatu MP says allocation of top positions is the biggest challenge in attempts to form a new coalition government.
Yesterday in Port Vila, a pact was signed by most leading political groups, comprising around 36 of the 52 MPs elected in last month's snap election.
The group says it's committed to forming government when parliament sits next week, and to introducing political reform to stop parliamentary instability.
However, Ralph Regenvanu, the leader of one of the central parties in the bloc, the Graon Mo Jastis Pati, told Johnny Blades the numbers remain somewhat fluid.
RALPH REGENVANU: The only party that we are not sure about is the Union of Moderate Parties which won six MPs so it has the equal highest number of MPs with VP (Vanua'aku Pati) and GJP (Graon mo Jastis Pati). We've included them in the signing, but only one of their members has made the commitment. yesterday when we signed the MOA, he was not actually physically present. He was bed-ridden, sick. So apparently he was going to sign last night or today. So the fact that we have got all the major parties in the bloc.. we are very much hoping that UMP will agree to come in the bloc, and one of their members had agreed yesterday. If they do come, then that will be all the big parties, apart frmo the Iauko Group.
JOHNNY BLADES: But the UMP, they've swapped sides under Serge Vohor so many times in the last decade or so and probably more. Can you expect a leopard to change its spots? Although Vohor, I'm not sure if he's still leading them anyway.
RR: Yeah that's the big question now with the UMP. There are directions coming from inside the jail, from Serge; there are directions coming from the rest of the national executive who don't share the same views with Serge and are trying to actually steer the party away from that reputation it has. So the division in that party is on one issue that we're trying to.. we're working towards now, and some other reasons why we included them in the MOA with one of their members who we're not sure has signed yet or not. We very much would like them to be part of the bloc because we're going to need the greatest number of MPs possible to make these changes to the constitution to implement political reform.
JB: Everyone has their own set of demands, is that right, and that can be difficult to juggle, can't it?
RR: The biggest difficulty will come with trying to allocate positions of prime minister and speaker and ministers. We've deliberately left that aside for now; just trying to get a good number together. But over the next week (ahead of first parliament sitting) that will be the main issue that we'll have to address along with of course, we're already starting to put together the urgent policies we want implemented which we're going to declare when we form the new government. So we have a team working on those policies. But the main thing that us leaders will have to work on is a sharing of posts, including prime minister and the other ministerial posts. And that will be the subject with the greatest potential to make some of the parties leave this coalition.
JB: What with everything that's gone on late last year (in the court case where 14 MPs were found guilty of bribery-related charges) and the jailing and stuff, I suppose as MPs, those of you who have been there for a while, you probably want to just get on with your work, don't you, and it's probably been draining in its own way?
RR: Yes unfortunately some parties are trying to make it an issue in the formation of this government, and it shouldn't be. For many of us it should be seen as a closing of the chapter. The justice system has done it's work, we shouldn't be thinking about it anymore. But unfortunately it seems there is some effort by some parties, particularly people in the UMP and working with people in jail to try and make it an issue of the new government so that there's all sort of rumours of government being formed to pardon them and that kind of thing, but I hope that doesn't have any more substance than just rumours.
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