Vanuatu Government’s future still in limbo

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The constitutional case to decide whether or not there will be an early election will not be decided for another week.

At Friday’s hearing before Chief Justice Vincent Lunabek, the counsel for the Opposition cited a litany of articles supporting the proposed motion of no confidence that was thwarted by the dissolution of Parliament.

The Solicitor General representing the State told the court that the urgent constitutional application should be dismissed because the complainants had not proved that the Council of Ministers’ (CoM) advice was unlawful.

He told the court that the Opposition solicitor Edward Nalyal fell short of giving evidence to challenge the power of the CoM.

Solicitor General Frederick Gilu submitted to the court that there was no breach of the articles cited by Nalyal in his submission.

The Supreme Court will deliver its verdict on the urgent constitutional application of 27 signatories of the motion of no confidence against Bob Loughman as Prime Minister on Friday 09 September 2022.

CJ Lunabek made the announcement after four hours of submission by Opposition counsel Nalyal, and about 45 minutes of response of Solicitor General Gilu, representing the State.

The four hours’ submission by Nalyal was an attempt to convince the court that the decision of the Council of Ministers to advise the President of the Republic to dissolve the parliament was unlawful.

“You need to show the court that the advice of the CoM to the President is unlawful,” Justice Lunabek told Nalyal.

Nalyal cited Articles 21(2), 43 and 66 in support of his submission.

Article 21(2) says that parliament may meet in extraordinary session at the request of the majority of its members, the Speaker or the Prime Minister.

Article 43 stipulates that CoM shall be collectively responsible to the parliament and parliament may pass a motion of no confidence in the Prime Minister.

At least one week ‘s notice of such a motion must be given to the Speaker and the motion must be signed by one sixth of the members of parliament. If it is supported by an absolute majority of the members of parliament the Prime Minister and other ministers shall cease to hold office forthwith but shall continue to exercise their functions until a new prime minister is elected.

Article 66 says any person defined as a leader in Article 67 has a duty to conduct himself in such a way, both in public and private life, so as not to place himself in a position in which he has or could have a conflict of interests or in which the fair exercise of his public or official duties might be compromised. A leader shall not use his office for personal gain or enter into any transaction or engage in any enterprise or activity that might be expected to give rise to doubt in the public mind as to whether he is carrying out or has carried out the duty imposed by sub article (1).

The CJ repeatedly asked the claimants’ counsel to show facts where the Articles have been beached in relation to each applicant.

Nalyal told the court that the 27 MPs deposited a motion of no confidence and several other motions to call for an Extra-ordinary session to debate it on 8th August. He said that motion was already declared in order by the Speaker on 9th August. Nalyal told the court that four days later, Loughman wrote a letter to the Speaker asking him to immediately withdraw the motion.

He told the court that the Speaker didn’t respond to Loughman’s letter and that resulted in the calling of the CoM to advice the President to dissolve parliament.

Parliament sat on 16 August to debate the motion of no confidence but was adjourned to the 19th because of the boycott of the 22 government MPs which resulted in the lack of a quorum of two thirds of 52 members of parliament.

The Court heard that parliament was not able to sit on 19 August because the President dissolved it less than 18 hours before the debate of the motion….

SOURCE: VANUATU DAILY POST/PACNEWS