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VANUATU: Natuman ousts Carcasses in 'back-to-basics' no-confidence vote

New PM Joe Natuman ... plans review of the airport funding and sale of passports. Image: Vanuatu Parliament

Friday, May 16, 2014

Item: 8612

PORT VILA (Australia Network News / Pacific Media Watch): New Vanuatu Prime Minister Joe Natuman says Vanuautu should live within its means, after ousting Moana Carcasses Kalosil in no-confidence vote, reports Australia Network News.

He is promising a back-to-basics approach to running the country.

A veteran politician, Natuman was elected as new prime minister after Kalosil lost a vote of no confidence in Parliament.

He won 40 of the 52 votes cast by Members of Parliament and was the only nominee for the post of Prime Minister.

Natuman has told Radio Australia's Pacific Beat many people in the country were concerned about the government's spending.

"In my view, we are doing things which have not been what people expected of our founding fathers," he said.

"Basically, I want us to go back to our roots and redirect the country and ensure that we live within our means."

Unecessary spending
Natuman said unnecessary spending had seen the government selling its citizenship and passports, something he wanted to review.

He also said he wanted to review the funding of a new airport.

Australian Network News reported that last year the Vanuatu government signed a deal with a Singapore-based company to build a new international airport and upgrade several regional airports.

As part of the deal, the Vanuatu Government will issue four separate promissory notes guaranteeing the repayment of $350 million if the government, or any future government, breaches the agreement.

Natuman's election follows a string of political instability in Vanuatu since the 1990s, which has seen numerous leadership changes and MPs swapping parties.

Moana Carcasses became prime minister in 2013, after joining the Opposition in a no-confidence vote to oust then PM Sato Kilman.

Tony Wilson, editor of the Vanuatu Independent newspaper, says the latest change of government has come as a surprise to many people.

'Kept quiet'
"This has been kept extremely quiet," he told Pacific Beat.

"Everyone in the media, and I think even some of the politicians, were in the dark."

Wilson believes Mr Carcasses' ethnicity may have been a factor.

"I suspect it's because he is not Ni-Vanuatu by birth - he is Polynesian from Tahiti," he said.

"That has been an underlying issue although it's been publically denied."

Carcasses made a recent impassioned speech on West Papua to the United Nations Human Rights Council. But Natuman also has a strong position on Papuan self-determination and human rights.

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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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