Vanuatu political leaders in talks to form unity govt

Talks are underway in Vanuatu to try and establish a government of national unity.

It comes after months of instability that has seen three governments in three months.

Radio New Zealand reports that on Sunday, Prime Minister Charlot Salwai’s Rural Development Party agreed to appoint the Nagriamel member for Santo, Joshua Pikioune, as the Minister of Education, and the Leaders Party MP from Malekula, Grace Shadrack, as the Minister of Lands.

The Prime Minister’s Office said the two incumbent ministers had agreed to step down to help restore political stability.

The office said the move is in line with the desire of the leaders of various parties to form a government of national unity and follows a request last month for President Nikenike Vurobaravu to dissolve the parliament and order fresh elections.

That request from the Council of Ministers was put aside.

Also, this week Ambae Jay Ngwele, who was a minister in the previous administration, brought his bloc of opposition MPs into the government, giving Salwai the backing of 33 MPs in the 51 seat House.

This compared with just 22 MPs supporting Salwai during the last parliamentary session.

Ngwele said they made the move to help bring political stability and to improve the delivery of government services. Meanwhile, the remaining seats leave opposition leader Bob Loughman with just seven MPs, with the others, under Ishmael Kalsakau, occupying the centre benches.