Vanuatu opposition MPs outside parliament chamber on Tuesday morning after a government boycott thwarted their plans to move a motion of no confidence against the leadership of prime minister Bob Loughman. 16 August 2022 Photo: RNZ Pacific/ Hilaire Bule
The Vanuatu prime minister Bob Loughman has confirmed he will attend the next sitting of an extra-ordinary parliament session on Friday to face a motion of no-confidence in his leadership.
Loughman and 20MPs loyal to his government boycotted parliament on Tuesday morning forcing an adjournment to Friday because of a lack of a quorum; and effectively thwarting the opposition's attempt to move the motion against him.
In response to the boycott opposition leader, Ralph Regenvanu, said Mr Loughman was only delaying the inevitable.
"We think its just a power grab, it's a last ditch attempt to try in stay in power beyond this week because the numbers have shifted," Ralph Regenvanu said.
Mr Regenvanu also said a request, from the council of ministers, conveyed by the prime minister over the weekend to the head of state, calling for the dissolution of parliament was equally futile.
RNZ Pacific's reporter in Vanuatu, Hilaire Bule, reported on Tuesday afternoon that the head of state, Nikenike Vurobaravu, has now declined the request for a dissolution of parliament effectively setting the scene for a showdown in parliament on Friday.
Bob Loughman said he is prepared to defend himself on the floor.
"We will be there during which time I will have the opportunity to respond to allegations raised against me and I am very confident that the allegations raised against me are baseless," he said.
Part of Mr Loughman's confidence also stems from the make up of the 17 government MPs who crossed the floor to join the opposition.
The only complete political party grouping to shift is a handful of MPs from the Reunification Movement for Change Party led by the former prime minister Charlot Salwai.
The rest of the MPs to cross over have done so as individuals leaving their party members still aligned with the government, many of them in ministerial roles.
"That to me will continue to provide instability because you cannot satisfy all of the members at any one time," Bob Loughman said.
"My view is rather than going to other motions coming in the next one-and-a-half-years ( the next election will be in 2024) that it would be in the best interest of this country to go for a fresh election," he said.
But Ralph Regenvanu said deliberations among the MPs that have helped shift the balance of power in the house are already well advanced.
"We expect that we will be able to form government on Friday quite peacefully and efficiently and we are currently finalising the policy platform for the new government for the remaining eighteen months or so of the legislature," Ralph Regenvanu said.
Ralph Regenvanu, leader of the opposition in Vanuatu. Photo: Hilaire Bule
Both leaders had messages for Vanuatu citizens in the country and around the world watching the political developments unfold.
Mr Regenvanu called for calm and urged citizens to respect the democratic process.
"We have the interest of the people at heart and we are making the changes for the better (sic) of the public," Regenvanu said.
Bob Loughman also reiterated that the motion of no confidence was a normal parliamentary process but he urged the public to ensure their leaders were making these moves for the right reasons.
"What concerns me though is members, individual members of parliament moving across from one side of the house to the other for their personal interests as compared to national interests," Bob Loughman said.
This is a developing story and the RNZ Pacific team will be staying across developments in Port Vila as they unfold.