Vila Times

Salwai’s chiefs reject the call for resignation

Salwai’s chiefs reject the call for resignation
Salwai’s chiefs reject the call for resignation
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There are reports that on Saturday morning, few hours after the Appeal Court delivered its judgement on two cases regarding the controversial Parliamentary Secretary (PS) position, chiefs from Central Pentecost were holding a meeting at Melsisi Catholic Mission with Prime Minister Charlot Salwai who was in his home island to open the 39th independence anniversary celebrations at Melsisi.
It is not clear who was behind that meeting but according to information received from Melsisi the purpose of the meeting was to discuss several issues with the leader of the government, including a possible stand following the call made by the Opposition leader, Ismael Kalsakau, for PM to resign just after the Court verdict on Friday.
The outcome of their meeting was then issued by Hilaire Bule who acted as public relation officer (PRO) to the Prime Minister’s Office. Hilaire Bule accompanied PM Salwai on Pentecost for one week tour.
PRO reported that the chiefs’ answer to the call for resignation was “No”.
“The chiefs from Central Pentecost welcomed the Appeal Court’s decision regarding the issue of appointment of PS. Instead, during their meeting with PM Salwai, they congratulated him for the development undertaken on Pentecost and on other islands of Vanuatu. The chiefs’ stand is that if the Opposition leader wants their MP to step down as Prime Minister of Vanuatu, he has to resign first as leader of the Opposition. They said it is just a Court decision on judiciary level but Ismael Kalsakau has failed on seven attempts to topple the government on political level. They asked Mr Kalsakau not to politicize the decision of Appeal Court but to prepare for a new term in 2020 general election. They said they are ready to put back their MP on his seat in the upcoming general election. They also said it is better for Mr Kalsakau to clean his eyes before asking their MP to resign,” reports said.
Hilaire Bule also reported that on Friday night, people performed Pentecost traditional dance “Sawakoro” at Lebati Nakamal to welcome the decision of the Appeal Court.
PM was supposed to come back to Port Vila this Monday.
Many people throughout Vanuatu question the stand taken by Salwai’s chiefs as they should stay neutral from any political issue.
Only UMP remained MP exercised his right as the Opposition leader to express his feelings concerning the issue he has himself given his time for and to call for resignation to PM Salwai is something he feels is his duty as he wants to see the executive power perform on the interest of the nation but not on the interest of politicians.
The ruling of the Appeal Court on the two cases regarding the PS post affirms the position of the Opposition leader who wants to see justice done on what he sees as political manipulation to stabilize the Salwai led government. To bring to that stability a high cost is something that is not allowed by the national constitution and for a leader with humbleness who feels he breaks the mother-law, to step down is the best option for him to preserve his integrity.
When Ismael Kalsakau calls on PM to resign, he is afraid the current leader will face the consequence of his act as it was him as chief of the executive who executed his power to appoint MPs on parliamentary secretary’s post in government ministries, including PM’s Office.
Now the big door is open for him to go further on his struggle. At the beginning he let people of Vanuatu know that he would go to the end. Again on Friday, during a press conference, he said he would start this week exploring avenues to make sure public money spent on PS position be reimbursed or leaders directly involved be punished.
As the Appeal Court stated that all scenarios were not allowed by the constitution, someone has to be held responsible and to be punished by related laws. The Penal Code and the Leadership Code can also apply in the legal proceedings and the Opposition leader already anticipates Salwai’s and others’ fate.
From 2013 to March 2016 before MP for Pentecost become Prime Minister, there was only one PS attached with PM’s Office. After his election to the highest post in the executive, an initiative has been taken within all new coalition partners to increase the number of MPs into PS position. The Salwai government has seen its number increased and the position was offered to many MPs, including UMP elected ones who run away from the opposition to join the coalition government.
Many MPs were offered the post and all privileges included on top of the ones offered by the Parliament of Vanuatu. The biggest political grouping led by Prime Minister Salwai has many MPs on the position and their appointment became a conflict of interest.
The Reunification of Movements for Change (RMC) whose president is PM Salwai has also seen its number increased when PS post has become a new political way to satisfy MPs who needed more money on top of their monthly remunerations paid by the Parliament of Vanuatu.
Vanua’Aku Pati (VP) only had one MP on the position being declared unconstitutional by the Appeal Court. It was Johnny Koanapo from Tanna who was attached with PM’s Office. He resigned two months ago before VP was expelled from the government.
National United Party (NUP) has two MPs on that position: Silas Bule with the Ministry of Education and Training, and Bruno Leingkone with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade.
Graon mo Jastis Pati (GJP) has no MP on that position and seems to be quite safe if legal action is to be taken against MPs who are and those who were occupying the post.
Photo: Tabi Mamkan Yonesco Post

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