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PORT VILA, Vanuatu (June 3, 2002 – Radio New Zealand International)---Vanuatu’s Parliament met Monday for the first time since national elections a month ago and, as expected, re-elected Prime Minister Edward Natapei to continue as leader.

Mr. Natapei heads the Vanuaaku Pati, which controls seven of the 13 Cabinet posts in the 52-seat parliament.

The other six ministries go to the VP’s coalition partner, the Union of Moderate Parties.

The UMP leader, Serge Vohor, will continue as Deputy Prime Minister, and also will be in charge of the Foreign Affairs and Telecommunications portfolios.

Parliament has also elected Henry Taga, who belongs to the UMP, as the new President of the Republic.

The Leader of the Opposition, Barak Sope, tried unsuccessfully to delay the parliamentary sitting, by seeking a constitutional challenge of some election results.

Mr. Sope claimed that the Electoral Commission was involved in fraud when a member of his Melanesian Progressive Party lost his seat after a recount reduced his number of votes by half.

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



PORT VILA, Vanuatu (June 4, 2002 – Radio Australia)---The new Parliament in Vanuatu has held its first meeting and, as expected, it has re-elected Edward Natapei as Prime Minister.

Radio Australia’s Sean Dorney reports that the important post of Finance Minister has gone to one of Mr. Natapei's party colleagues, Sela Molisa, one of Vanuatu's longest serving politicians.

"Under the new coalition agreement in Vanuatu the leading party in the coalition, the Vanua'aku Party, the VP, has kept the Prime Ministership but it has given the Speakership and six of the thirteen ministries to its coalition partner, the Union of Moderate Parties.

"The UMP won one more seat than the VP but Mr. Natapei's party has the support of some independents, one of whom, Nicolas Brown, has been given a Ministry, Ni-Vanuatu Business.

"Sela Molisa's appointment to the Finance Ministry will be welcome news to aid donors. He's a known quantity and is expected to carry on with the economic reform policies of Joe Kalo, who lost his seat.

"The former Speaker, another Vanua'aku Party stalwart, Donald Kalpokas, returns to the Cabinet as Health Minister.

"Sean Dorney, Radio Australia."

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

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