In the lead-up to today’s no-confidence motion, Vanuatu Prime Minister Sato Kilman has experienced a significant loss of support among his Members of Parliament (MPs).
Over the past few days, as the motion of no confidence gained momentum, PM Kilman, who also serves as the President of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), has seen his hold on the majority of the 52 present Members of Parliament (MPs) slip away. Additionally, he has lost the allegiance of two MPs from his own political party.
Don Ken, a newly elected PPP MP representing the Malekula Constituency, defected from Kilman’s camp the day after the by-election results were announced last week, choosing to join the opposition. Similarly, Zacchaeus Lulu, a PPP MP representing the Santo Rural Constituency, defected from MP Kilman’s side this week to align with the opposition.
These defections have placed the PM in a challenging predicament as he struggles to maintain control over his MPs. As a result, he now faces the motion of no confidence in parliament this morning. This motion, endorsed by 26 MPs, was submitted on 25 September and was originally scheduled for debate on 02 October. However, due to Kilman and his 21 MPs boycotting the first day of this week’s extraordinary session on Monday, the session was adjourned until today.
On Monday, only two MPs from the government side were present in parliament, compared to the 26 from the opposition. Since then, PM Kilman has lost MP Lulu, who defected from the government to the opposition, bringing the total number of MPs in the opposition camp to 27.
There have been allegations that the remaining National United Party (NUP) MPs, including the Minister of Education, Silas Bule, and the Minister of Climate Change, Ulrich Sumptoh, are considering joining the opposition, but their status will be confirmed in parliament today.
Furthermore, the Appeal Court granted a stay order for the President of NUP and the MP for Ambrym, Bruno Leingkone, Thursday. Earlier this week, the Speaker of Parliament, Seoule Simeon, announced the vacancy of Leingkone’s seat, citing the law on Vacation of Seats. Leingkone has already appealed against the Supreme Court’s decision this week to uphold the Speaker’s announcement.
It is anticipated that Leingkone will be present in parliament this morning during the debate on the motion of no confidence against PM Kilman.
An MP for the Ambae constituency and a member of NUP, John Still Tari Qetu, joined the opposition after resigning as Minister of Sports to endorse the motion of no confidence.
Qetu had previously been appointed as Minister of Justice by former PM Ishmael Kalsakau but stepped down to support the former Leader of the Opposition, Bob Loughman, in electing . Kilman as the new Prime Minister. Subsequently, he was appointed as Minister of Sports but later resigned to join the Opposition.
Reports from the opposition camp suggest that the Leader of the Opposition, Charlot Salwai, now commands the support of 27 MPs, potentially leading to the formation of a new government in Vanuatu today. The opposition maintains that the recent Appeal Court decision will not alter the parliamentary situation this morning, as they believe their 27 MPs constitute the absolute majority of the 52 MPs.
In light of the Appeal Court’s decision Thursday, Kilman now has the support of 24 MPs.
In addition to the motion of no confidence, this morning’s parliamentary proceedings will also include a debate on the motion to suspend the First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Gracia Shadrack, from parliament.
SOURCE: VANUATU DAILY POST/PACNEWS