Vanuatu Daily News Digest | 2 December 2015

Repeating last evening’s correction:

The correct figure for the snap election cost is VT 87 million as given by Daily Post, not as the Digest reported yesterday (VT 187 million). Apologies to the Electoral Office, Post and the readers taking the trouble to point it out.

Today Daily Post leads with the Opposition block filing their urgent Constitutional case. There are 24 applicants who are members of the Opposition block together with Kenneth Natapei, recent winner of the Port Vila by-election. The respondents are the Head of State, President Baldwin Lonsdale, together with the Republic of Vanuatu. Five remedies are sought. These begin with the case seeking to have the Presidential declaration of the dissolution of Parliament declared null and void. Parliament should meet as summoned by the Acting Speaker, the Opposition claims. The constitutional rights of the applicants as MPs are said to be infringed with the dissolution; likewise those of Kenneth Natapei, recently elected. The applicants’ lawyers are Ronald Warsal and Edward Nalial. The applicants hope the matter can be heard this week.

Daily Post today carries an interview with Dominic Meiklejohn, the outgoing British High Commissioner based in Honiara, who applauds Vanuatu for successfully tackling corruption, specifically referring to the imprisonment of the 14 MPs involved in the bribery case. Meiklejohn said that the British Prime Minister David Cameron is planning to host an international conference on anti-corruption. "We are aware of, and applaud, what Vanuatu itself, through its judicial system, has been able to do in terms of tackling corruption in recent months." Meiklejohn also understood that Vanuatu will not be able to host the 2017 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) which will take place in London, but felt that the first woman Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, who comes from the Caribbean, would give "a much stronger focus to Small Island States." The High Commissioner designate, Chris Trott, is being introduced to the Government on the same travel as the High Commissioner.

In a Letter to Daily Post today, Hilda Aru properly points out the difficulty Vanuatu would face in hosting the 2017 CHOGM meeting which our European Ambassador keeps touting as ideal for Vanuatu. Hilda Aru and the visiting British High Commissioner must also have seen for themselves the Convention Centre edifice which the conceit of certain of our ministers in days gone by saw them prefer, rather than a new court house for our applauded judiciary. The hubris of many of our politicians is further exemplified by the Government failure to do anything yet in support of the chiefs’ nakamal post-Pam repairs. The tattered Malvatumauri looks down on both Parliament and the Convention Centre.

The Morning Star flag was raised at the chiefs’ nakamal in Port Vila yesterday after a parade of chiefs and church leaders, with young people carrying banners, from Saralana to the Malvatumauri. The only political leader attending was Ralph Regenvanu.