VANUATU PARLIAMENTARY BATTLE GOES BACK TO COURT

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PORT VILA, Vanuatu (April 11, 2001 - Radio Vanuatu/PINA Nius Online)---Vanuatu's Supreme Court received an urgent appeal from the Opposition today to have Parliament consider a no confidence motion against Prime Minister Barak Sope.

It follows yet another decision by Speaker Paul Ren Tari to adjourn Parliament, this time until next Tuesday.

The Opposition is asking the court to order Parliament to convene and debate their motion.

Reports received from the court say it will meet again this afternoon to allow the Speaker to respond.

On Friday Vanuatu Chief Justice Vincent Lunabek ordered the Speaker to reconvene Parliament and allow the Opposition to move its motion of no confidence.

The Chief Justice ruled:

Speaker Tari, who is an executive of the National United Party, had earlier ruled not to allow the motion of no confidence against Prime Minister Sope to go ahead.

He said the contents and reasons for the no confidence motion given by the 27 members of the Opposition who signed it were the subject of a defamation suit taken by Sope and in front of the courts. It also contained errors, he said.

In addition to stopping the motion from being discussed, Tari declared that Parliament was finished, as there was no further business to discuss.

This prompted the Opposition to immediately go to the Supreme Court.

Twenty-seven members of the Opposition, mainly from the Vanua‘aku Party (VP) and the Union of Moderate Parties (UMP), signed the motion after the UMP submitted its resignation from Mr. Sope's government.

The Government numbers are believed to be down to 23.

There have been rumors that Government has been offering huge amounts of money to try and lure members of the Opposition to its side.

In a press statement today Ombudsman Hannington Alatoa again called on elected leaders to observe the rule of law.

"Vanuatu's darkest days are being experienced at this very moment as some of our elected leaders appear to be ignoring their official duties as leaders," he said.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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