Vanuatu's ruling alliance survives parliamentary vote | Asia Pacific

Vanuatu's ruling alliance survives parliamentary vote

Vanuatu's ruling alliance survives parliamentary vote

Updated 6 January 2012, 12:00 AEDT

Vanuatu's ruling alliance group has emerged victorious in a no-confidence vote by parliament earlier today.

The government alliance led by Prime Minister Sato Kilman won 27 votes in the 52 member parliament. Opposition Leader Serge Vohor's 25 votes included that of the speaker of parliament. Today's result followed an appeals court decision which returned Mr Kilman to power, after he was ousted during a no-confidence motion in April. But despite the victory, Prime Minister Sato Kilman says the country's political situation remains far from stable.

Reporter: Girish Sawlani

zAlain Simeon, Vanuatu journalist; Prime Minister Sato Kilman of Vanuatu

SAWLANI: It was always going to be a close fight, but in the end, the government led by Sato Kilman won by a single vote. Alain Simeon is a journalist with the Vanuatu Broadcasting and Television Corporation and was in parliament when the result was read out.

SIMEON: As parliament sat this morning, 52 members of parliament were present in the house. Following the procedure of parliament, the speaker of parliament was required to confirm the members of parliament who have switched sides. He wanted to confirm their affiliation to which political parties and went straight to allow the vote for the majority of the house. As parliament sat this morning, the government side was enjoying a majority of 27 members of parliament and the Opposition at 25.

SAWLANI: The government's victory was achieved as the result of two recent defections from the opposition led by Serge Vohor. In the past week, Stephen Kalsakau and Willy Reuben Abel switched wides after being offered cabinet positions. The Prime Minister Sato Kilman says he's happy with the result.

KILMAN: We knew the outcome would be this and I am glad that in this case, the speaker recognised it and ruled for. So yes, I'm quite pleased with the decision of the speaker.

SAWLANI: But he warns the country's political situation is far from stable.

KILMAN: Even we have 27 at the moment, leaving the government side the Opposition side with 24 and you have the speaker as well. It's still not a comfortable number and you only need one or two to switch sides and we're back to square one. So I think to be fair on members of parliament, so that they can exercise their democratic rights which was given them by the electors to the end of this parliamentary term which is until next year. Failing that, then I think we should be looking at elections, going back, get a new mandate from the voters and hopefully we will have a better government in terms of a bigger majority. For Vanuatu, we cannot have instability for the next twelve months, it will be in the interest of the country to go back to elections, as soon as possible.

SAWLANI: While there's no guarantee that the Opposition won't call for another no-confidence vote before the next general election, Prime Minister Sato Kilman says his cabinet's priority lies in running the country.

KILMAN: For Vanuatu, we have various programs that are in place and programs which are bipartisan, agreed by many other governments that have come into power in the last couple of years. And these are the programs that we want to continue to keep going with them. But basically the objective being to be able to continue to grow the economy and sustain what we have achieved so far but putting emphasis on the delivery of service to the rural areas.

SAWLANI: And that could prove to be crucial in the near future, as Vanuatu looks set to enter the World Trade Organisation as its 154th member.


Contact the studio

Got something to say about what you're hearing on the radio right now?

Send your texts to +61 427 72 72 72

Add the hashtag #raonair to add your tweets to the conversation.

Email us your thoughts on an issue. Messages may be used on air.