Parliament suspended following Opposition petition; Bipartisan Constitutional Review Committee planned

Vanuatu Parliament House, Port Vila

A new direction under the red roof, or the business-as-usual of political instability? Photo: PhillipC/Flickr

Following the President’s speech yesterday, the Speaker announced that a court order was obtained to the effect that the First Ordinary sitting had to be suspended. This is because the Opposition through a Constitutional petition had argued that the Ordinary sitting could not take place whilst the Special sitting was still adjourned. Judge Oliver Saksak agreed with this position. Government and Speaker have lodged an appeal against the ruling, but the Ordinary sitting is suspended until Friday when the Special Sitting is completed, or before that if the Court of Appeals comes to a decision.

A Bipartisan Constitutional Review Committee will be appointed, the Prime Minister re-confirmed in midday news on Radio Vanuatu today, national broadcasts now restored. However, there was no news from the courts on the Government’s appeal against Judge Saksak’s ruling about the Ordinary Sitting of Parliament. Political instability, as mentioned by the President in his address at the opening of Parliament, was the main item in the Radio Vanuatu bulletin at noon. The Coffee and Controversy programme on 96 Buzz FM paid tribute to both sides of the House over the manner in which they are handling the matter of changes to the Constitution and trying to do it constitutionally.

The Board and Management of VBTC apologises for service interruptions from last Thursday until today. An outstanding bill of Unelco was responsible, Daily Post reports. An offer for payment is accepted by the Board, although the Chairman took exception to the timing of the cut. The Chairman explained in Radio Vanuatu News that a stand-by generator had been used by the national broadcaster after demands that outstanding bills be paid, and then the emergency equipment failed to work. Chairman Jerety blamed the previous Board and Government for the outstanding accounts to Unelco without mention of any existing arrangement for settlement. Jerety then signed a new agreement with the company, he said, although no details were given. This did, however, enable broadcasts to continue.

The new Efate Rural MP Gillion William was sworn in yesterday in Parliament before the court order relating to the legality of the sitting was made.

The country has a new Chief Information Officer, already working in the Office of the Government CIO (OGCIO). He is Gerard Metsan with 20 years experience in Vanuatu Telecoms and ICT. He has worked with OGCIO previously. OGCIO oversees information and communications technology policy and the Government’s IT operations.