VANUATU MP CROSSES AISLE TO JOIN GOVERNMENT

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Switch helps PM Kilman consolidate power

By Godwin Ligo PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Jan. 4, 2011) – In Vanuatu, Tafea Outer Islands Member of Parliament (MP) Philip Charlie has joined government.

[PIR editor’s note: Tafea Outer Islands are situated in the southernmost part of Vanuatu.]

It is hardly a week in 2011 and Prime Minister Sato Kilman has already scored points in the political arena when Tafea Outer islands MP, Philip Charlie, joined the government side yesterday.

This change of affiliation by Vanua’aku Party’s (VP) Tafea Outer Islands MP has further consolidated Kilman’s numbers.

"It is the wish of the population of the Tafea Outer Islands for me to join Members of Parliament and Minister for Lands Harry Iauko to strengthen the Government of the day and in return to allow more developments into Tafea Outer islands," MP Philip Charley from Erromango said.

He was voted into Parliament under the VP ticket during a by-election on December 15, 2009 after the death of the former Member for Tafea Outer Islands the late Ture Kalo.

The 36-year-old Vanua’aku Party MP told Daily Post yesterday morning that: "It is the wishes of the people of the Tafea Outer Islands for me to join rank with Tanna’s Member of Parliament and Minister of Lands Harry Iauko in the Government because the people believe that you have to be in the Government to contribute positively towards the developments of the islands, MP Charlie told Daily Post yesterday morning as he declare his political position publicly. The decision for me to join the government was made by the people on December 23rd but I decided to announce this publicly through Daily Post on January 3 as the first political move for 2011 to consolidate the present Government and to tell the people of Vanuatu that the people of the Tafea Outer Islands have asked for this to show their desire that their Member must stand together with Minister Harry Iauko to provide the developments to the people," he said.

Daily Post also spoke to the MP for Tanna and Minister for Lands Harry Iauko yesterday morning.

"Despite all political differences between the leaders, at the end of the day the people are the ones that decide as to what the leaders must do to the best of the people’s interest. We the political leaders serve the people and therefore must respect and honor their wishes. It is for these reasons that the MP for Tafea Outer Islands has taken the step to move to the Government side. And I respect the individual rights and wishes of politicians. In this case the wishes of the Tafea Outer Islanders to have their Member of Parliament in the Government. I have said this on a number of occasions that after claiming the VP Presidency during the Lumbukuti Congress on Tongoa, the other VP faction led by former Prime Minister and MP Natapei has sought court decision as to who should rightfully claim the name Vanuaaku Party. We are still waiting for the outcome but in the meantime I have told the VP Members of Parliament that it is their individual rights and that of their voters as to who or which political party or party faction they wish to ally themselves with. And as for MP Charlie I am pleased to note today (yesterday) that he has taken the advise of his constituents in the Tafea Outer Islands to join me in the Government," Minister for Lands Harry Iauko said by phone from his home in Port Vila.

He concluded, "We the Members of Parliament must first of all realize that we stand for the people and need to position ourselves where we can best serve them and this country as a whole. The country needs stability and the move taken by the Tafea Outer Islands people and especially the Vanua’aku Party supporters and voters to have their Member of Parliament be part of this present Government in power is welcome by me and indeed the leaders of the Government. It is for the best of the people of this country that we have a strong and solid government in place to serve the people and the country," Tanna MP and Minister for Lands Iauko told Daily Post.

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