President Of Vanuatu Revokes Pardons For Convicted MPs

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Public prosecutor allegedly orders arrests of some of the MPs

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Oct. 16, 2015) – The President of Vanuatu, Baldwin Lonsdale, has revoked the pardon of 14 MPs issued last weekend by the acting president, Marcellino Pipite.

A week ago, the Supreme Court convicted 14 MPs, including the deputy prime minister and speaker of parliament, of giving and receiving corrupt payments.

Mr Pipite, who is the speaker, pardoned himself and 13 other MPs.

One MP, Willie Jimmy, had pleaded guilty and was not pardoned.

Father Lonsdale was out of the country last weekend and on his return he said Mr Pipite had acted unlawfully and promised action.

Our correspondent says the President made a decision yesterday and it was announced in Port Vila this morning.

Father Lonsdale cited the constitutional obligations on the need for a leader to conduct him or herself in such a way that avoids conflicts of interest, compromising official duties, demeaning the office, allowing his or her integrity to be called into question or endangering or diminishing respect for or confidence in the integrity of the Vanuatu Government.

[PIR editor’s note: Radio Australia reported that ‘The president said Mr Pipite acted before the MPs had been sentenced and a pardon only applies to people who have been sent to jail. ... Vanuatu's public prosecutor has also ordered the arrests of some of the MPs.’]

He says Mr Pipite infringed all of these obligations, making the revocation necessary.

The Supreme Court is due to sentence the MPs next Thursday.

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