The newly-elected Vanuatu government formed late yesterday will have a huge responsibility as the country struggles over the Covid-19 crisis and massive destruction wrought by TC Harold this month.
Vanua’aku Party President, Bob Weibur Loughman has been elected as the new Prime Minister alongside Union of Moderates Party (UMP) and former Opposition leader, Ismael Kalsakau as Deputy Prime Minister.
Loughman defeated Graon mo Jastis Pati (Land and Justice Party) leader Ralph Regenvanu with 31 votes to 21 in a ballot yesterday afternoon at Parliament House in Port Vila.
Loughman was able to secure the numbers to claim the PM’s role with the backing of the Union of Moderate Party (UMP), National United Party (NUP), and a bloc of smaller parties who called themselves G10.
In his first address as PM, Loughman said while the country is waiting to elect its new government, Vanuatu’s economy has been shattered by the COVID-19 pandemic and the category 5 Tropical Cyclone Harold, which will be a daunting task ahead for him and his cabinet to face.
He thanked the outgoing government led by former Prime Minister Charlot Salwai Tapimasmas for its efforts to take the country through the Covid-19 crisis and restore communities affected heavily by TC Harold.
Former PM Salwai congratulated the new PM and cabinet ministers and said the new government will have a huge responsibility to play given the situation the country is going through at the moment.
The sharing of the 13 portfolios saw seven positions given to VP, UMP and NUP and six given to the G10 bloc. The new Speaker, Gracia Shadrack , first deputy speaker, second, third and fourth was also given to the G10 bloc. Shadrack comes from the Leaders Party.
The government has formed more than a month after the people of Vanuatu went to the polls.