Vanuatu Opposition Gains Foothold After Provincial Polls

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Administrations elected in Malampa, Tafea, Penama and Shefa

By Jonas Cullwick

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, March 4, 2013) – Opposition parties in Vanuatu’s national parliament have taken commanding roles in two of the four new provincial councils by taking control in Malampa and Tafea and securing the Vice Presidency position in Penama and Shefa Provinces.

New Government Councils of the four provinces held inaugural meetings Thursday and elected their Presidents.

At Penama Province, the new council voted in Lonsdale Hinge, a National United Party (NUP) candidate from Pentecost, who received nine votes. Councilor Hinge, a long-serving provincial council administrator was elected over Tabisal Halili of the Reunification of Moderate Movement for Change who received seven votes of the 16-member council.

Maewo Graon and Jastis Pati switched sides and backed Hinge’s election.

In return the council elected Adin Vice President, who received eight votes over Michael Bani of the People’s Progressive Party who received seven. There was one void vote.

Secretary General of Penama Provincial Council, Georgewin Garae said appointments to other offices including the formation of committees will be completed today.

At Lakatoro, Malekula, councilors from political parties in the Opposition of the national Parliament stood together and voted in William Fred Tasso of Graon and Jastis Pati for President of Malampa Province. He was the only candidate for the position and was elected with 11 votes for with 10 against.

"Because the standing orders require that a vote by secret ballot has to done, the 21 councilors had to vote for or against Councilor Tasso’s nomination," explains Edward Kaltamat, Deputy Director of the Department of Local Authorities who also witnessed the voting.

The Vice President’s position went to Aram Hungai of the Vanua’aku Pati who received 12 votes over Elkem Timothy Mhitout of Natatok with nine votes.

In Shefa Province, councilors affiliated with opposition parties in the national parliament banded together and voted in Emae Councilor Atavimarata Edward George of the Vanuatu National Party. He is the first person from the island to become President of the provincial council. The First Vice President went to Max Johnny of Graon and Jastis Pati from Efate Constituency. Second Vice President is Joseph Merib, an Independent candidate from Epi, and the Third Vice President is Willie Robbie of the Green Confederation from Makira and Mataso constituency.

Tafea’s new council re-elected Nakou Natuman of Union of Moderate Parties (UMP) President and Natuman Lalo Imak of National Community Association (NCA) Vice President.

"Now that these elections have been completed, today the new councilors participate in induction followed by a four-day Local Elected Leaders’ trainings beginning on Monday," Director of the Department of Local Authorities Cheryl Ala said.

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