Vanuatu Daily News Digest | 26 November 2015

The Opposition’s challenge to both the Head of State and Council of Ministers in a clearly minority government, when both have decided for dissolution, will be tested in the courts – and sooner rather than later. This has meant the adjournment of Constitutional Case 691 of the Opposition to which the elected but not sworn MP Kenneth Natapei was a party. The Opposition is, however, determined that, as the President has said, the rule of law is for everyone and must be obeyed. The Digest will bring further information to its readers when it is made available.

Caretaker Prime Minister Kilman, Radio Vanuatu reported this morning saying that now with Parliament dissolved there has to be a general election after 30 days and before 60 days. He was recorded yesterday before the Opposition’s lawyers were heard in chambers at the Supreme Court.

Nothing to do with the dissolution’s complications, and even though it is claimed the Electoral Office already has funding for the national elections required for next year, the registration of voters would be severely disrupted owing to the loss by many voters of their electoral cards from bush materials houses swept away in cyclone Pam. And for Port Vila voters there is a particular problem in that the election which saw Kenneth Natapei recently voted a Port Vila MP, their red cards became filled and needing replacement "between January and March 2016," voters were told by the Electoral Office officials.

Daily Post reports today the new Caretaker Minister of Justice, Robert Bohn, ordering his DG to move the 14 MPs detained on bribery convictions and housed in the ‘medium risk’ facility to the Women’s Detention Centre. He would not give reasons. Bohn was one of the few who escaped a conviction and sentence in the matter which has imprisoned the 14 others.

Daily Post today reports the loss of a lease to Tassiriki beachfront land at Erakor Lagoon by Kalo Sandy in an Appeal Court case brought by the Vanuatu Rowing Association. The lease was allowed by former Lands Minister Stephen Kalsakau for VT 500,000 when a premium value had been established at VT 15,400,000 in the established way. Kalo’s rent to Government was established at only VT 15,000. This lease and others to Kalo by the same minister are said to be likely to be subject matter for Ombudsman investigation.

Radio New Zealand International says the Reserve Bank of Vanuatu has given approval for the Bank South Pacific to operate in Vanuatu from July next year. Radio Vanuatu added that the approval was given this week. The BSP plan was to take over Westpac operations earlier this year as it has done elsewhere in the region, but cyclone Pam interfered with the smooth transition planned.