The Vanuatu Opposition bloc has publicly apologised to the people of Vanuatu.
Ishmael Kalsakau, serving as both the Member of Parliament (MP) for Port Vila and the President of the Union of Moderate Parties (UMP), made the bold remark Wednesday.
“On behalf of the UMP MPs and MPs within the Opposition bloc, we want to say sorry to the people of Vanuatu. I am sorry that we have put you all in that situation, instead of focusing on recovery,” he said.
MP Kalsakau and the Leader of Opposition, Bob Loughman, who is also the President of Vanua’aku Pati (VP), admitted that prioritising the recovery phase for families affected by cyclones is important over political preferences, emphasising the paramount importance of the people’s interests.
Kalsakau said they would be setting aside political differences to allow the government to deliver essential services.
These remarks were made after heads of the political parties and MPs, including the Prime Minister (PM), met with the Head of State Nikenike Vurobaravu in relation to the request to dissolve the parliament.
MP Loughman announced that they would withdraw the motion on No Confidence in PM Charlot Salwai, as agreed by all the MPs in the opposition bloc. He acknowledged that retracting of the motion will move the country forward
Kalsakau in his capacity as the UMP President reiterated that it is not the right time for them to entertain their political preferences
While affirming the opposition’s role in ensuring services reach the people, he stressed the need to let the government function smoothly. Kalsakau noted that the priorities now include the passing of the 2024 budget, prioritisation and approval of the Political Integrity bill, and electoral reform by year-end.
Both MP Loughman and MP Kalsakau acknowledged feedback from the public, both critical and supportive, stressing that the people’s interests should prevail over political preferences.
Kalsakau also commented on the importance of traditional practices of consultation, expressing hope that these discussions would form the foundation for addressing the livelihood of the people.
Meanwhile, Head of State, Nikenike Vurobaravu, said the passing of the Political Registration Bill and a review of the electoral system will ensure future political stability in the country.
This statement followed discussions with political party leaders on Tuesday and Wednesday, which led to an agreement for the Opposition to withdraw the motion of No Confidence in Prime Minister (PM) Charlot Salwai and allow the PM to continue leading the government.
Vurobaravu said that in addressing political instability, he engaged in a series of discussions with key political leaders, church representatives, and chiefs to explore potential pathways forward.
He said passing the 2024 Budget by March next year is important.
Vurobaravu is also advocating for the Political Registration Bill to regulate political parties and urging a review of the electoral system for broader political participation as essential measures to prevent further instability.
He said there is a need to address disagreements among key political leaders in administration, policy direction, management, planning, and other governance practices.
The Head of State believes if the areas which he highlighted are not achieved, the political instability will continue.
“As a developing country, we must be united, we must be integrated, we must be strong,” Vurobaravu said. He affirmed his commitment to advocating for unity, integration, and inclusivity in guiding the country forward.