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By Gratien Tiona

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Port Vila Presse, Aug. 2) – Several days after the recent reshuffle that put Maxime Carlot Korman and Paul Telukluk out of the government, rumors were circulating that another reshuffle was imminent. Last weekend was seen as the time to undertake this new maneuver, which the National United Party saw as necessary to save its government.

According to a source close to government, the prime minister found a replacement for foreign minister Kilman, wishing to relieve the People's Progressive Party (PPP) president of control of Vanuatu diplomacy. But the plan ran aground after the replacement candidate refused the offer of the head of government, following a reaction from the voters in his constituency. The likely candidate is Marcellino Pipité according to our source.

The Santo deputy was also awaited all week among the Greens. He was going to join the ranks of the Green Confederation all last week but the ceremony was postponed, according to a good source close to the center of the Greens.

The decision of the prime minister to put his deputy out of the executive remains delicate, but will be tied to both administrative and political reasons, said our source.

Even within PPP, the rank and file were waiting to hear what moves had been taken against their president. "We were familiar with the rumors going around and were informed, too, that it seemed not to be speculation. We don't know the reasons that push the head of government to act against our only minister. It seems there are pressures as was the case with the former reshuffle," suggested a prominent party member.

The PPP which, a few weeks ago, formed a solidarity block with the Republican Party, MPP, Namangi Aute and other partners in the governing coalition, maintains its solidarity and its leaders are opposed to the termination of Carlot and Telukluk to benefit the two big partners, NUP and the Vanuaaku Pati.

For his part, the president of PRV has not slammed the door behind him on leaving government. Maxime Carlot and his party remain faithful to the Lini government out of respect for the memorandum of understanding signed between the political parties which in December overturned the Vohor government.

But PRV does not accept the reshuffle and political maneuvering in the lead-up to the silver jubilee. In a communiqué to the press, the Republicans accuse the Vanuaaku Pati of having pressured the prime minister to achieve their ends, one of which is reintegration of its national coordinator into the position of chairman of Air Vanuatu. The chairman had been put out by Maxime Carlot as minister responsible for the airline, at the beginning of the month. And that move followed the move of the board of management to put back Joseph Laloyer in his director of marketing.

Laloyer was terminated at the beginning of the year, together with the general manager, Jean-Paul Virelala, for what was described as 'professional reasons'.

The president of the Republican Party also reproached the Vanuaaku Pati and its president Edward Natapei for showing too little respect for the solidarity agreement on the eve of the silver jubilee of the independence, for which Natapei's party fought with much tenacity.

"We would accept if the reshuffle was moved to following the jubilee. The Vanuaaku Pati is dishonoring Independence for which it fought," said PRV.

In the ranks of the Greens it is said, "We have great respect for the national day and would like firstly to honour it [before going on to political matters]" said supporters. The Greens Confederation, which has become a heavyweight, feels it has the high ground to start leading the negotiations in the maneuvers which will follow 30 July.

Tuesday, August 2, 2005

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