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Willie Jimmy Tapangararua to take up post soon

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, March 24, 2009) – Former Minister for Finance and longtime politician, Willie Jimmy Tapangararua has been endorsed by the Council of Ministers as the new Ambassador to the Peoples Republic of China.

According to decision 34 of 2009 "the appointment shall be effective as soon as the Minister for Foreign Affairs signs the agreement according to the provisions of the Foreign Service Act".

The Council of Ministers made the decision last Wednesday.

The Ministers also approved instruction that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs complete the process for the appointment.

First Political Advisor to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Leiasmanu Cullwick said the official appointment of Mr. Jimmy will be made as soon as the Minister of Foreign Affairs is discharged from hospital.

"We hope this can take place sometimes this week," Mrs. Cullwick confirmed.

According to reliable sources, the announcement is not a surprise.

When the former Minister of Finance did not pull through in the last election it had been whispered within the group that he would take the post.

There are also reports that the appointment was a ‘give-and-take’ for the two key political parties in Government.

Political commentators say although NUP will not admit this, Tapangararua’s appointment will ease some pressure considering that the NUP Presidency post is also up for grabs sometime later this year.

There is much speculation also within NUP especially after the former Port Vila Member of Parliament made an official complaint to Police and the Ombudsman about both the Secretary General for NUP, and current Minister for Trade, James Bule and his Assistant SG, Clifford Bice over the copra subsidy funds.

Reliable sources say the two candidates short-listed for the post in China were down to Tapangararua and long-time Director to the Foreign Affairs Department, Kalfau Kaloris.

Daily Post was informed that although Tapangararua’s appointment may be political, others have also sidelined the comments saying that his credentials meet the requirements.

He has the experience and is known as a businessman with financial qualification that has been reflected in his political career as one of Vanuatu’s finance ministers.

Meanwhile under Section 2 of the Foreign Service Act "the Council must not recommend to the President a person for appointment unless the person "is qualified and capable of carrying out the required duties at the mission, and has been recommended to the Minister by a selection panel under subsection 9."

Subsection 9 says "the selection panel must recommend to the Minister all candidates rated suitable by the selection panel, and the Minister must recommend all of those candidates to the Council."

Under the Foreign Service Act, the panel is made up a representative from the Prime Ministers’ Office, a representative from the Civil Society, a representative from the Office of the Leader for Opposition, the Director General for Foreign Affairs, and the First Political Advisor for Foreign Affairs.

This composition which comprises one civil servant against four politicians has elevated speculation that any such recommendation will inevitably be political and not based on merit.

According to political commentators, the only civil servant who would have got the blessing of both politicians as well as being recommended on merit would have been the current Ambassador for Vanuatu in Brussels, Roy Mickey Joy.

"His appointment was unique. Not only did he have the right qualification but also the credentials in his field to get the prestigious post in Europe," said our source.

The onus is now on the Government to ensure that such appointments are reflected in their performance while on their three-year contract.

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