Vanuatu Parliamentary Backbenchers Demand PM Remove Five Ministers

Coalition members dissastisfied with performance, leaked document shows

By Jonas Cullwick

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, June 6, 2017) – Leaked documents reveal that the Prime Minister, Charlot Salwai, was requested by government backbenchers to reshuffle his of cabinet by removing five government ministers.

A letter dated May 30, 2017, signed by representatives of political parties in this coalition government – Vanuaaku Pati, Reunification of Movements for Change (RMC), Graon and Justis Pati (GJP), Jacque Mariango Group, U-Bloc, Vanuatu National Development Party (VNDP), Fren Melanesian Party (FMP), Angai Tagaro and Vanuatu Green Confederation (VGC), made the request to the Prime Minister.

The Nagriamel representative did not sign.

Although the letter was not made known to the public, a copy was posted on the Vanuatu Opposition Forum Facebook page on Sunday.

It says: “We the representatives of the political parties in government write to you demanding you carry out an urgent reshuffle of some your ministers now.”

The letter says the main reason for the reshuffle is “because these ministers are not performing or are not performing in the interest of government but for their own political parties”.

Five ministers although not actually named were listed in the letter. They were: Minister of Infrastructure and Public Utilities (Jotham Napat – Leaders Party); Minister of Foreign Affairs (Bruno Leingkone – National United Party), Minister of Finance and Economic Management (Gaetan Pikioune – Nagriamel), Minister of Agriculture, (Matai Seremiah – Leaders Party), Minister of Climate Change (Ham Lini – National United Party).

The letter warned the Prime Minister that if the reshuffle was not done, the backbenchers would not support the Government bills in these Parliament sessions – the First Ordinary Session and the First Extra Ordinary Session.

It was signed by MP Bob Loughman – VP representative, MP Marcellino Barthemely – RMC representative, MP Andrew Napuat – GJP Representative, MP Nako Natuman – Jacque Mariango Group representative, MP Alickson Vira – Angai Tagaro representative, MP Tasso Fred William – U-Bloc representative, MP Christopher Emelee – VNDP representative, MP Edwin Macreveth – FMP representative, and MP Kalo Seule — VGC representative. MP Jacob Mata representative of Nagriamel did not sign the letter.

When contacted, the Government Public Relations Officer, Hilaire Bule, denied any knowledge of the letter.

But the Minister of Lands, Ralph, also President of GJP confirmed knowledge of the letter.

He said those who signed did not represent any decision of their political parties but just their own.

Minister Ralph added that the matter had been resolved after the government caucus met and discussed the issue and the Prime Minister has responded in writing to the signatories of the letter.

It is understood the letter was part of the work of a Committee formed by the government to scrutinize the performances of ministers and request changes where it sees fit.

PRO Bule confirmed the existence of such a committee.

Vanuatu Daily Post
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