Vanuatu’s opposition plan fourth no confidence motion to oust government

Vanuatu Opposition Leader Ishmael Kalsakau

Vanuatu’s opposition bloc is reportedly planning to file a fourth motion of no confidence against Prime Minister Alatoi Ishmael Kalsakau as the country’s political crisis continues.

Reliable sources close to the opposition have told the Daily Post newspaper that the opposition bloc, led by former PM Bob Loughman, is planning for the no confidence vote against both Kalsakau and the Speaker of Parliament, Seoule Simeon.

On Friday, the Vanuatu Supreme Court ruled that the vote in parliament on August 16 was won by the opposition and that the absolute majority in a Parliament of 51 MPs was 26.

The government remained in power only due to a stay order that allowed it to appeal the ruling.

Simeon filed the appeal against the ruling in court on Monday.

“Kalsakau and Seoule confirmed their intention of appealing against the ruling of the Supreme Court last Friday to grant the urgent application of the opposition’s 26 members of parliament to determine if the absolute majority is based on number of members of parliament present or the 52 seats in Parliament,” the Daily Post reported.

RNZ Pacific’s Vanuatu correspondent Hilaire Bule said the motion of no confidence is expected to be lodged next week, once the National United Party president Bruno Leingkon, who is currently overseas on medical leave, returns to Port Vila.

Vanuatu currently has 51 MPs following the vacancy of a seat in the constituency of Malekula.

During the extraordinary session to debate the motion of no confidence last week, 23 MPs from the government side voted against the motion and 26 from the opposition vote for it, but Seoule said the motion was defeated.

The Office of the Supreme Court confirmed on Monday that Simeon, who is the first respondent, and the State which is the second respondent, officially deposited their appeal.

An opposition source said the former education minister Leingkon is expected to return to Port Vila next Monday and the motion of no confidence is expected to be lodged the next day.

A reliable source from the government told the Daily Post that it will be not easy for the opposition “get what they want”. “The government still holds strategic cards to counter the opposition’s moves, making it challenging for the opposition to achieve their objectives,” the source told the newspaper.