Sato Kilman defeats no confidence motion | Pacific Beat

Sato Kilman defeats no confidence motion

Sato Kilman defeats no confidence motion

Updated 11 December 2012, 11:45 AEDT

The Prime Minister of Vanuatu Sato Kilman has defeated a motion of no confidence against him and his new government.

The motion was table just weeks after Mr Kilman was able to get the support of a majority of MP's to be reelected as Vanuatu's leader, and just over a month after the country went to the polls to elected a new parliament.

Over the week leading up to this morning's vote the numbers changed backwards and forwards, but Mr Kilman was able to get enough support to stay in office.

But the politic fight, so close to an election has indicated Vanuatu is in for a volatile four years.

Pacific Correspondent Campbell Cooney has been looking at the events of the last week, and what it may mean for the island nation.

Presenter:Bruce Hill

Speaker: Campbell Cooney

While Sato Kilman may have retained the leadership of Vanuatu's government, the events of the past few weeks indicate the island nation's politics over the next four years, are going to be just a volatile as the last four

The day after Mr Kilman was reelected, a member of the opposition group told Pacific Beat, they would be challenging him sooner, rather than later.

Unlike it's Melanesian neighbours Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu's constitution does not allow for a period of grace of up to 18 months after the countyr votes, before a no confidence motion can be tabled.

That motion came just a fortnight later, with the opposition saying it had the support of 28 members of the 52 seat parliament, and they wanted it voted on early last week.

Last monday that move was blocked by the speaker of the house George Wells, who ruled the motion was out of order, because some of those who had put their signature to it two days before had changed allegiance once again.

An appeal to the Supreme Court led to that ruling being overturned with the motion to be tabled and debated last Friday.

But the delay gave Prime Kilman time to work the numbers, and by Thursday he had appointed now former opposition MP Kalvai Moli as the new Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Minister, and was claiming the support of 30 MP's. Also present at that ceremony were two MP's who the week before had put their signature on the no confidence motion.

On Friday when parliament convened the sitting was boycotted by the opposition, and by today when it was voted on Mr Kiman's majority had dropped by three, with 27 mp's backing him.

But it's not likely to be the last time Vanuatu's government will face a challenge.

Sato Kilman took the prime ministership in late 2010 on the back of a no confidence which was held just hours after he had farewelled then PM Edward Natapei at Port Vila's airport. The first Mr Natapei knew of it was when he landed in Sydney to transit onto a flight to Europe.

In the two year's Mr Kilman held office before the October elections, he faced at least five no confidence motions, a number of court challenges to his leadership, and staged a number of cabinet reshuffles, to try and hold off contenders.

Political commentators have predicted he can expect the same in this term, and many believe it's unlikely he will still be in office in four years time.

In a speech made to the Ni-Van MP's elected to the first time former President Kalkot Mataskelekele told them they should seriously consider changing the country's constitution to allow a government to have a grace period to allow them to govern without worrying about internal politics.

If that happens, is yet to be seen at this stage though it would seem unlikely, and even though Christmas is approaching, there's no guarantee politics Vanuatu style is about to calm down.



Bruce Hill

Bruce Hill


Bruce is one of the Pacific’s most experienced journalists with nearly 20 years covering the region and has won several international awards.

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