Vanuatu Opposition’s Airport Deal Case Has Merit: Court

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Vanuatu Opposition’s Airport Deal Case Has Merit: Court Party wants court to rule if concession agreement lawful

By Royson Willie and Godwin Ligo

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Sept. 9, 2013) – At around 3:45pm yesterday Vanuatu’s Supreme Court ruled that there is a Case in the Opposition’s Judicial Review application on the issue of the Concession Agreement for the new international airport.

The concession agreement was signed between the Prime Minister Moana Carcasses, and the Deputy Prime Minister Edward Natapei as witness for and on behalf of the Vanuatu Government, with the Singapore Company representatives, David Mak and Eric Ong on July 27.

The ruling by the Supreme Court was made after the courtroom conference that began at around 9am yesterday morning and ended at around 3:45pm.

The Supreme Court set the date for the case to be heard on September 27, 2013 at 9am.

This date was set after the court granted leave for the Opposition members of parliament to make further amendments to their application.

One of the amendments is the change of their status in their application from their status as Opposition members of parliament to their capacity as representatives of the people, to bring in the issue of "public interest" in the case.

The basis of the Opposition members of parliament’s submission lies on the process of the signed concession agreement.

Port Vila Member of Parliament, Willie Jimmy, told Daily Post yesterday after the conference that what they are asking the court to look at, when trial starts on September 27, is the process and due diligence leading up to the signing of the concession agreement.

He said one of the areas that they are seeking clarification from the court is whether the agreement as it is, signed by the prime minister, is in accordance with existing finance laws of Vanuatu.

These legislations include the Government Contracts and Tenders Act and the Public Finance and Economic Management Act.

Normally under such agreements it would require the minister of finance to sign, and that is another area MP Jimmy says they want the court to establish, whether the wrong person signed the agreement.

The promissory note will not be dealt with by the court as it has not yet been tabled before parliament.

The members of parliament that submitted the case are expected to meet today to further discuss their case.

The judicial review case was filed by MP Ham Lini as the First Applicant and the Second Applicants that include; MP Mokin Stevens, MP James Bule, MP Bruno Lenkon, MP Sato Kilman, MP Dunstan Hilton, MP George Wells, MP Isaac Hamariliu, MP Don Ken, MP Tony Nari, MP Kalfao Moli, MP Pascal Iauko, MP Charlot Salwai, MP Stephen Kalsakau, MP Paul Telukluk, MP John Lum, MP Havo Moli, MP Alfred Carlot, MP Willie Jimmy, and MP Marcellino Pipite.

The First Respondent is the Republic of Vanuatu, Second Respondent is Prime Minister Moana Carcasses and Third Respondent is Vanuatu Trade Development PTE LTD.

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