Vila Times

UMP urged not to bypass laws

UMP urged not to bypass laws
UMP urged not to bypass laws
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While the national executive of Union of Moderate Parties (UMP) is preparing the venue of the national congress of the party to be held in the upcoming weeks to approve the list of its candidates for 2020 general election, many supporters especially in Port Vila still question how Port Vila UMP regional committee and its president ignore Vanuatu existing laws when they endorsed the name of someone with a suspended sentenced to be their candidate.
Following news stories ran by local media outlets including Vila Times on the meeting being held at Freshwater on Saturday 25 May 2019, many people still react as they want to see the second longest party in the country perform its duties with “fairness and dignity”. These two words were expressed by concerned supporters who spoke to Vila Times on condition of anonymity.
The prominent Ni-Vanuatu businessman of Tanna, Sabi Natonga has been endorsed as the only proposed candidate of UMP in the constituency of Port Vila for 2020 general election.
Right from the beginning of UMP Port Vila regional council meeting, the president of UMP Port Vila Region, Alick Noel, introduced the three candidates who filed an official application, namely Sabi Natonga, the municipal councilor Tony Iauko and Wendy Himford.
After the introduction, Alick Noel detailed the criminal record that prevents Sabi Natonga from running 2020 general election.
Sabi Natonga was convicted of three criminal charges carrying a suspended sentence of a two years term with 8 months imprisonment delivered by Justice Fatiaki on 13 December 2018. The sentence reads: “For your significant mitigating factors including the custom reconciliation ceremony, I deduct 4 months form the concurrent starting sentence leaving an end sentence of (12-4) – 8 months imprisonment which is wholly suspended for a period of 2 years.”
Now that Sabi Natonga is endorsed by UMP Port Vila Region as the only proposed candidate for 2020 general election, UMP supporters question why Ishmael Kalsakau who is vice-president of UMP, leader of Opposition and member of Parliament of UMP in the same constituency is not challenging the eligibility of the endorsed candidate.
The article 24.1) b) of the Representation of the Peoples Act (CAP 146) reads, “Subject to section 23 a person shall be eligible to stand as a candidate for election to Parliament if he has not received a sentence including a suspended sentence of a term or terms of imprisonment which has not ended.”
“As such, Sabi Natonga cannot simply run in 2020 general election and it will be a slap for UMP not to have any candidate for the constituency of Port Vila unless there is an internal conspiracy in the making for Ishmael Kalsakau to be retained as the final and only one UMP proposed candidate. Ishmael Kalsakau did not make an official application to UMP Port Vila Executive to run and denied to attend the UMP Port Vila Regional Council Meeting,” a disappointed supporter told Vila Times.
UMP secured six seats in 2016 snap election in equal position with VP and GJP. For the first time in its history, UMP was divided into two blocs for at least two years, one UMP MP as the leader of the Opposition in the 11th Legislature and five UMP MPs backing the government of Charlot Salwai till they officially rallied RMC at the 2018 national congress in Santo.
Reliable sources said Robin Kapapa, lawyer by profession, is again retained as the favorite proposed candidate for UMP on Tanna. Robin Kapapa had run 2018 Tanna by-election with UMP flag to replace Joe Natuman, former VP president who lost his seat as a member of Parliament because of his conviction a a two-year suspended sentence.
Another lawyer, Willie Daniel, is also at this point of time retained as the favorite proposed candidate of UMP on Tongoa.
“We have three lawyers with us. Lately, there is a sudden vote of trust for UMP by experienced young lawyers. But why all of them are supporting Sabi Natonga to be our candidate when it is a political suicide for UMP?” said a worried supporter.
“On can wonder if those lawyers running under the ticket of UMP are defending the interest of UMP or are again self-motivated. UMP is survived with one MP with Ishmael Kalsakau, a former leader of VP. Will UMP be able to raise up from the ruins and restore it to the original vision of the mother party who fought for political freedom and economic development of Vanuatu or UMP has just become another political arm of VP as shown in the sixth motion of no confidence against PM Salwai on Friday 14 June?” said another supporter who claims he is with UMP since his younger age.
UMP national congress is scheduled to take place at Lamap, the date to be finalized. Source said the president of the party Serge Vohor wants the congress to take place on Santo, his home island, while some leaders push for Port Vila.

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