Moana Carcasses named new Vanuatu PM | Pacific Beat

Moana Carcasses named new Vanuatu PM

Moana Carcasses named new Vanuatu PM

Updated 25 March 2013, 11:46 AEDT

Vanuatu's parliament has elected the country's former finance minister, Moana Carcasses, as Prime Minister.

Mr Carcasses replaces Sato Kilman who resigned from office last week before MPs could vote on a no confidence motion.

The Speaker then adjourned parliament for eight days, but the Opposition argued a Prime Minister must be elected immediately and succesfully persuaded the High Court to force MPs to sit.

Presenter: Richard Ewart

Speaker: Tony Wilson, editor of the Vanuatu Independent newspaper


WILSON: The Opposition has been plotting and planning for some weeks now to put together a motion of No Confidence and that part of their plan went like clockwork, except that the Speaker, George Wells, declined to let them have a vote. He simply closed Parliament. That led to a sort of few moments of uproar and then, the Opposition immediately said they'd challenge that in the Supreme Court. The Chief Justice, Vincent Lunabek, after many hours of deliberation finally came out in the early hours of Saturday morning and said that the MPs must go back to Parliament at 10am and do their job and vote for a new Prime Minister.
10am came and most of the MPs trooped into Parliament, but the Speaker, George Wells, hadn't appeared and then it became obvious that the government of Sato Kilman was not happy and they were going to challenge the finding of the Chief Justice. So they wanted to put in an appeal in the Court and they wanted a stay of his order while the appeal was heard.
Again, more uproar around Parliament and the matter went back to Court. Chief Justice Lunabek said he's not having any of that, we're not listening to that at all, I'm ordering you to reconvene Parliament immediately. The Opposition then tried to get a Court order to have the Speaker, George Wells, arrested. In the end, that wasn't necessary.
Finally, around lunchtime on Saturday, everyone went into Parliament, the Bells rang and they announced the nomination of Moana Carcasses for Prime Minister.
The minute they did that, the Government group got up and walked out of Parliament. So we then finally got a vote. Ironically, the Speaker who'd been the fly in the ointment, if you like, George Wells, he in the end voted for Moana and the vote was 34 MPs for and none against, because the others had left Parliament.
EWART: So where does that leave us now, because it sounds to me as though this is not going to be the end of the matter. It's not going to be a case of Moana Carcasses can take over as Prime Minister and start putting his Cabinet together. I mean are we expecting more legal challenges for starters?
WILSON: No, I think that might be the end of it this time. 34 is quite a healthy number. You had to have a majority of 28 MPs, so 34 is healthy. I think they fired all their shots over the last few days and hopefully now, we'll get what the people here crave and that's some stable government.
EWART: So what we do have also coincidentally, is we have the first naturalised citizen to become Prime Minister and also the first Green to become Prime Minister of Vanuatu. So tell us a little bit about the new man and what he might bring to the leadership?
WILSON: He is from French Polynesia although he came to Vanuatu as a young boy and he's to all intents and purposes as much Ni-Vanuatu as anyone else here. He grew up here. He's a doer, he will get out there and things will happen. He's an action man, he likes to be seen to be doing things. He will make things happen which in some areas is desperately needed in this country at the moment.
EWART: So would you be reasonably optimistic that he can hold the Government together, because, of course, this is the ongoing issue in Vanuatu. There have been so many votes of No Confidence and so many ructions in Parliament over the last few years. You pointed out the people crave stability. Do you seriously believe they might get it this time, at least for a year or two?
WILSON: Yeah, I think he's got a good shot at it, to be honest. It's a good group they've put together and there was some kingmakers behind them that were serious people in the business community and I think he'll listen to them and hopefully, we might see a government that might last for a while. But I have to be cautious, because of the history of here.
EWART: And what of Sato Kilman, what will happen to him now? Will he just quietly sit on the backbenches there or might he try for the leadership again at some stage?
WILSON: Oh, he might have another shot at it again. Again, that's the nature of politics in this country. But his statement actually when he resigned last week was quite statesmanlike and he said the people want a change and I accept that. It was an interesting statement, even though things were chaotic in the Parliament following his resignation. So perhaps he's decided his time is up and he'll leave it to someone else.
One of the problems with politics here in recent years is that you see the same faces recycled all the time as Prime Minister. So at least now with Moana we've got someone that's new to the job and hopefully if he listens to some of the wiser heads that are advising him, we could see some changes. He's certainly come out with a..., or the group has come out with a list of things that they want to do in their first 100 days in power and that list is not finalised or official, but it's certainly been well received by people. Many of the things on it look quite promising and we're talking about things like West Papua being put forward for the MSG - the Melanesian Spearhead Group - and Vanuatu having less of a connection with Indonesia - things that have been talked about right through the country in recent times. And other things in general terms with different government groups that have been seen to be not functioning to well, there's going to be a review of some of these groups. All of these things will be very favourably received by the general populous.

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