Vanuatu no-confidence vote set for Friday

Prime Minister Bob Loughman

Vanuatu’s embattled prime minister Bob Loughman has confirmed he will attend the next sitting of an extra-ordinary parliament session on Friday to face a motion of no-confidence in his leadership.

Loughman and 20 MPs loyal to his government boycotted parliament on Tuesday morning forcing an adjournment to Friday because of a lack of a quorum; and effectively thwarting the opposition’s attempt to move the motion against him.

In response to the boycott opposition leader, Ralph Regenvanu, said Loughman was only delaying the inevitable.

“We think its just a power grab, it’s a last ditch attempt to try in stay in power beyond this week because the numbers have shifted,” Ralph Regenvanu said.

Regenvanu also said a request, from the council of ministers, conveyed by the prime minister over the weekend to the head of state, calling for the dissolution of parliament was equally futile.

RNZ reports that head of state, Nikenike Vurobaravu, has now declined the request for a dissolution of parliament effectively setting the scene for a showdown in parliament on Friday.

Bob Loughman said he is prepared to defend himself on the floor.

“We will be there during which time I will have the opportunity to respond to allegations raised against me and I am very confident that the allegations raised against me are baseless,” he said.

Part of Loughman’s confidence also stems from the make up of the 17 government MPs who crossed the floor to join the opposition.

The only complete political party grouping to shift is a handful of MPs from the Reunification Movement for Change Party led by the former prime minister Charlot Salwai.

The rest of the MPs to cross over have done so as individuals leaving their party members still aligned with the government, many of them in ministerial roles.

“That to me will continue to provide instability because you cannot satisfy all of the members at any one time,” Bob Loughman said.

“My view is rather than going to other motions coming in the next one-and-a-half-years (the next election will be in 2024) that it would be in the best interest of this country to go for a fresh election,” he said.