Over 1,816 citizens representing different sectors and voices, going under the Movement Red, have signed a petition urging parliamentarians to urgently discuss and pass Bills addressing political integrity.
164 people took to the streets Thursday with signs expressing concerns about instability, with messages like “Stopem Instabiliti tede”, “Stop the Nonsense”, “Tede yu kosem instabiliti, tumoro mi vot”, “Yumi Taet” and “We deserve better”.
The petition reads; “Political instability is disrupting Vanuatu’s development and service delivery to our communities across all islands. It fuels policy inconsistencies, interrupts development projects, hinders economic development and planning, discourages foreign investment, affects employment opportunities, and wastes the Vanuatu Government’s limited funds.
“Political instability reduces confidence in national leadership, divides communities, and diverts resources away from essential services: healthcare, education, infrastructure, social welfare and emergency relief efforts. Political instability harms Vanuatu’s international reputation and credibility.
“Achieving the goals of the National Sustainable Development Plan 2016-2030 is essential for our nation’s development and prosperity. Vanuatu needs to ensure that no one is left behind, but political instability hinders this path for us all.
“The package of Bills in support of enhanced political integrity in Vanuatu is an important foundation for fostering a stable, transparent, and accountable political system that facilitates our country’s sustainable development objectives.
“We, undersigned, concerned voters of the Republic of Vanuatu call upon Parliament to re-table and prioritise the implementation of the political integrity Bills and legal reforms as listed for the Second Ordinary Session of Parliament for 2023: Bill for the Political Parties Registration Act of 2023, Bill for the Electoral Act of 2023, Bill for the Decentralization (Amendment) Act of 2023, Bill for the Municipalities (Amendment) Act of 2023, Bill for the Referendum Act of 2023, Bill for the Right to Information (Amendment) Act of 2023, Bill for the Charitable Associations (Incorporations) (Amendment) Act of 2023.”
In response, Prime Minister (PM) Charlot Salwai commended the citizens for delivering the petition personally, emphasising the importance of the Parliament as the place where laws are passed.
He thanked the protesters for their efforts and stressed that elections are everyone’s responsibility, urging citizens, chiefs, churches, and women leaders to contribute to peace and stability.
PM Salwai acknowledged the challenge of increased candidates and population, leading to competition and division. Political instability affects development, diverting attention from the government’s role.
He noted that despite listing important bills in the recent Ordinary Session, they were withdrawn due to a lack of support. The inability of the 52 MPs to work together led to the recommendation by the Council of Ministers (COM) to the Head of State to dissolve Parliament.
Salwai admitted that that the approach taken by the Head of State reflected the culture and traditional values, Christian values on which the country is founded which led to the withdrawal of the Motion of No Confidence in him as the PM.
The head of the government stressed the MPs’ responsibility to debate and pass these important Bills. Non-compliance with the Political Registration Bill will have consequences. He further noted that the government’s commitment to stability and legislative amendments if necessary.
He urged voters to choose candidates based on vision rather than “pots and rice”, emphasising the duty of everyone to vote for the right people. The Minister of Climate Change who also serves as the President of Graon mo Jastis Pati (GJP) Ralph Regenvanu and Andrew Napuat, Tanna’s GJP MP were also present to receive the petition.