Vanuatu politics: MPs make compromises to avoid dissolution of parliament

Concerned citizens in Vanuatu hold a protest to voice their concerns about the ongoing political instability in the country, November 2023 (Photo: Vanuatu Minister of Climate Change, Ralph Regenvanu/Facebook)

Politically the mood eased slightly Wednesday in Vanuatu after the President Nikenike Vurobaravu had ordered MPs to sort themselves out or he would dissolve the parliament.

At a short, extraordinary session MPs voted to remove a suspension on Malekula MP, Gracia Shadrack, with RNZ Pacific correspondent Hilaire Bule saying this cleared the main grievance for the opposition members.

Back in September, the then opposition had forced Shadrack into suspension for two years because he had threatened to burn down parliament.

This was prompted by the Speaker Seoule Simeon refusing to grant permission for Bruno Leingkone, who was admitted to a South Korean hospital at the time, to vote virtually in a no confidence motion against then prime minister Ishmael Kalsaku.

But Wednesday MPs put that behind them and Shadrack was brought back.

However, the issue of the two deputy speakers the opposition members wanted removed was not voted on because the Speaker Simeon said the motions had not reached his office. Bule said despite a degree of resolution, instability remains in Vanuatu, with parliament still split between at least three factions, with Prime Minister Charlot Salwai having the backing of just 22 members among the 51 MPs.