Vanuatu MPs to announce coalition formation

There are signs a new government may be formed in Vanuatu with an agreement to be signed today in Port Vila.

Reports are that a coalition aiming to be the new government will sign a Memorandum of Agreement.

Vanuatu's snap election last month returned a fractured parliament with the 52 MPs belonging to 17 parties or independent, prompting more than a week of intensive horsetrading.

But two blocs - Unity for Change and the Leaders' Group - are expected to sign the agreement today.

Unity for Change includes two of the main opposition parties going into the poll, the Vanuaaku Pati of former Prime Minister Joe Natuman and the Graon mo Jastis Pati of Ralph Regenvanu.

The makeup of the Leaders' Group is unclear.

Such a coalition would still require the backing of a significant number of the smaller parties in the parliament to reach the required 27 seats.

Meanwhile, the long-awaited official results of Vanuatu’s snap election on 22 January were announced by the three-panel members of the Vanuatu Electoral Commission Monday.

The results has placed the Graon mo Jastis Party (GJP), the Union of Moderate Parties (UMP), and the Vanua’aku Pati (VP) on the lead with six winning candidates each followed by the Iauko Group and the National United Party with four winning seats each, and the Reunification of Movement for Change (RMC) and the Nagriamel with three candidates each.

The Vanuatu National Development Party (VNDP) and the Green Confederation got two seats each.

Parties winning a single seat in the 52-member parliament are the People’s Progressive Party of caretaker prime minister Sato Kilman, Vanuatu Presidential Party (VPP), the Fren Melanesian Party (FMP), People’s Service Party (PSP) of caretaker minister for Public Utilities and Infrastructure, Don Ken, Fren Melanesian Party which is one of the very oldest political party in Vanuatu, the Natatok Party of former foreign affairs minister Alfred Charlot who has lost his seat, the newly  formed Leaders Party of Vanuatu for former Climate Change Director General, Jotham Napat, and the Labour Party.

 Chairman of the Electoral Commission, Killion Taleo also announced eight independent candidates as winners and members to be of Vanuatu’s 11th legislature.

Monday’s announcement now puts to rest the confusion surrounding conflicting figures obtained from political observers particularly over the Banks seat which now confirms the downfall of PPP’s vice president, Dunstan Hilton to VNDP’s Jack Wona, and that the veteran politician and NUP president, Ham Lini has retained his seat.

From the 52 MP elected in the last term, only 16 made it back to the 11th legislature – 7 from the government side and 9 from the opposition. Those on the caretaker government side are the current caretaker prime minister Sato Kilman, his deputy Christopher Emelee, minister for education, Daniel Toara, minister for climate change, Jerome Ludvaune, minister for internal affairs, Hosea Nevu, utilities minister, Don Ken, and caretaker minister for sports and youth development, Samsen Samson.

On the former opposition side there is the former prime minister Joe Natuman, former education minister, Bob Loughman, former lands minister Ralph Regenvanu, former internal affairs minister Charlot Salwai, former Utilities minister, Esmon Saimon, Bruno Lengkon, Nato Taiwia and former prime minister Ham Lini Vanuaroroa.

 Veteran politicians who lost their seats are the Vanua’aku Pati secretary general, Philip Boedoro, Peoples Progressive Party’s Dunstan Hilton, former agriculture minister, David Tosul, former speaker George Wells, Nagriamel president, John Lum, a former minister for foreign affairs, Alfred Charlot, and a former minister for Sports and youth development, Mokin Stevens as well as the leader for Hope Party, Kalvau Moli.

However, there are new faces who are all very experienced public servants that may bring excitement during parliamentary debate. They include the former Attorney General, Ishmael Kalsakau and the two former government’s director generals, Jotham Napuat and Johnny Koanapo and also the former deputy director of customs, John Sala.

There are also some successful businessmen like Matai Seremaiah and Marc Ati both from the Luganville constituency and others whose wealth of experience could assist parliamentary discussions on government finance and the national economy.

 According to parliamentary rules, the office of the clerk of parliament will have to send a notice for the calling of parliament within 21 days from the election-day during which time a prime minister and speakers of parliament are elected and new government is formed