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VANUATU: Hilda Lini, women challenge government to make drastic changes

Former Minister of Justice Hilda Lini is holding PM Kilman to his constitutional mandate. Image: Vanuatu Daily Post

Friday, October 16, 2015

Item: 9457

Len Garae
PORT VILA (Vanuatu Daily Post/ Pacific Media Watch): A former Minister of Justice, and also the first woman to be elected to Parliament following Vanuatu’s independence, is calling on Prime Minister Sato Kilman to proceed with his constitutional mandate.

In light of the country's current political crisis, Hilda Lini is asking for Kilman to terminate his five convicted ministers, and appoint their replacements, or for him to resign and make way for the remaining 38 MPs to choose a new Prime Minister.

“In parliamentary democracy, 38 remaining MPs constitute the majority by which Vanuatu Parliament could still proceed without dissolution until either by-elections or general elections,” Lini said.

Her statement is a wake-up call to the Head of State, the Prime Minister and all political leaders in relation to speculation that Parliament could be dissolved over the conviction of a minority group of 14 MPs who could lose their parliamentary seats on October 22.

Parliament to continue
She explained: “Having served as a member of parliament for 11 years, I see no need to dissolve parliament as there is Precedent set in 1988 when Parliament continued to proceed after 19 MPs had lost their seats.

“Any move to dissolve parliament at this time would be seen as part of intended revenge taken by 14 convicted MPs to close the 10th Legislature and force the full population to accept a snap election”.

She also appealed to the Kilman to let the court of justice complete its process and let Parliament carry out its legislative mandate.

In her view as a former Justice Minister, the whole issue of the so-called pardoning is null and void in terms of "perverting the course of justice".

Pardons revoked
The pardoning of 14 MPs by acting president Marcellino Pipite has become void.

Radio New Zealand International reported Vanuatu President Baldwin Lonsdale had revoked the pardon.

Lonsdale cited constitutional obligations on leaders to conduct themselves in such a way that avoided conflicts of interest, compromising official duties, demeaning the office, allowing their integrity to be called into question, or endangering or diminishing respect for, or confidence in, the integrity of Vanuatu's government.

He said Pipite infringed all of these obligations, making the revocation necessary.

The Supreme Court is due to sentence the MPs next Thursday.

Meanwhile, Women Against Crime and Corruption (WACC) organised a peaceful demonstration this morning.

The objective of their protest was to drive the message home to the Head of State, Prime Minister and Leader of Opposition that the nation cannot be allowed to continue to witness one political scandal after another.

They expect all three leaders to be present to receive them.

They say it is the ordinary people that suffer as a result of the impact of political misadventure and this cannot be allowed to develop from bad to worse.

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Pacific Media Watch

PMC's media monitoring service

Pacific Media Watch is compiled for the Pacific Media Centre as a regional media freedom and educational resource by a network of journalists, students, stringers and commentators.
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