Vanuatu Dissolution to be contested September 2

The constitutional case filed by 27 former Vanuatu Members of Parliament (MPs) challenging the legality of the Council of Minister’s (COM) advice for Parliament dissolution, is now set for hearing next Friday.

These MPs were signatories of the no-confidence motion against the nation’s Prime Minister, Bob Loughman.

They are the applicants in the case against the President as the first respondent, and the State as second respondent.

The urgent constitutional application was registered in the Supreme Court early this week.

The applicants are challenging COM’s advice for the President to dissolve Parliament, disallowing a no-confidence motion that has already been registered.

Their lawyer, Edward Nalial, told the Court that COM should face the motion instead of seeking dissolution.

Meanwhile, assistant deputy private secretary to Vanuatu’s head of state, Wilson Thompson, who was also present at Wednesday’s proceedings, said the court found the constitutional application too broad in its scope.

“The chief justice, who is the one presiding over the matter, has advised the applicant’s lawyers to amend the constitutional application and make it as an ordinary civil matter,” Thompson told RNZ Pacific.

Thompson said the core difficulty in the original application was that it named the president as first respondent in the case but he could not be challenged because of the powers accorded to him by the constitution.

“Because Article 28 (3) of the Constitution does provide for the president to dissolve parliament if he receives a council of ministers’ decision. And that provision does not provide for any other authority whether from the opposition or whether from the leader of the opposition for the president to consult before making a dissolution [of parliament].”

Thompson said the constitution also does not require the president to base his decision on any specific criteria.

Chief justice Vincent Lunabek has given until the close of business today for the application to be amended to exclude the president and until Friday for the attorney general to prepare a response.