VANUATU'S PARLIAMENT ORDERED TO MEET TO RESOLVE POLITICAL CRISIS

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PORT VILA, Vanuatu (April 12, 2001 – Radio Australia)---Acting Chief Justice Vincent Lunabek has ordered Parliament to meet tonight to resolve the country's political crisis.

Radio Australia correspondent Sean Dorney reports that the Opposition has won its second case in a row, declaring the actions of the Speaker unconstitutional.

"The Speaker of the Vanuatu Parliament, Paul Ren Tari, wouldn't let the Parliament debate a motion of no confidence in Prime Minister Barak Sope when it met on Tuesday despite having been ordered to call the Parliament together for that purpose by the Acting Chief Justice, Vincent Lunabek.

"In a second ruling this afternoon, Justice Lunabek ordered Mr. Tari to summon the Members again tonight to deal with the motion or be held in contempt of court.

"The crisis was brought on by the defection of one of Mr. Sope's former coalition partners whose members joined with the Opposition in condemning Mr. Sope's dealings with a foreign businessman, Amarendra Nath Ghosh.

"The Opposition is confident it has the numbers to defeat Mr. Sope but he's been working hard on counter-defections.

"Sean Dorney, Radio Australia."

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

VANUATU’S ACTING CHIEF JUSTICE BEGINS HEARING OPPOSITION APPLICATION

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (April 12, 2001 – Radio Australia)---Vanuatu’s Acting Chief Justice Vincent Lunabek has begun hearing an Opposition application for him to order the speaker to allow Parliament to decide the fate of the Prime Minister Barak Sope before Easter.

The Opposition - which now has a majority among Parliament’s members - claims the Speaker is in contempt of court for refusing to allow a vote of no confidence in Mr. Sope when the Parliament met yesterday.

The Speaker, Paul Ren Tari, wouldn’t allow any debate yesterday, simply declaring that the original no confidence motion was irregular and that the Parliament will meet again next Tuesday to consider a new motion.

The Opposition, which has been frustrated, twice now, has gone back to the Acting Chief Justice, asking him for a new order directing the Speaker to allow Parliament to decide the issue.

Last night on local Vanuatu television, Prime Minister Sope lauded the speaker as a champion of democracy. He maintained that the courts had no right to tell the Speaker how to run Parliament.

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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