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Coalition announcement awaited

Tuesday 2 February 2016 | Published in Regional

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PORT VILA – Vanuatu’s Electoral Commission has confirmed the major political parties have been largely wiped out following the country’s snap election.

The official results show 17 parties have had members elected, but no one party has secured more than six seats in the 52-seat parliament.

Caretaker Prime Minister Sato Kilman is the only member of his People’s Progress Party remaining in parliament following the January 22 polls.

Former prime minister and National United Party leader, Ham Lini, narrowly won his seat after a recount of the votes.

The elected party members and eight independent members have three weeks to negotiate to form a coalition government.

Dan McGarry, from the Vanuatu Daily Post, said the political alliances will be the most fractured in Vanuatu’s history.

“The joke here is that the independents are the largest grouping and so if they just stick together we’d be halfway to parliament right now,” he said.

“We have more independents, more one-man, one-person parties than ever before in our political history.

“It seems that the lines are being drawn more or less as they were in the previous parliament.

“That we will see a grouping very roughly dividing along language lines, with the UMP (Union of Moderate Party) which was a traditionally a French-language party at the core of one grouping, and the Vanuaku Party and the Ground and Justice Party at the core at the other group.”

Radio New Zealand has reported signs that a new government may be close with media invited to a press conference in Port Vila late yesterday morning.

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

Two blocks – Unity for Change and the Leaders’ Group – were expected to sign the agreement.

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 make up 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.

The political breakdown in Port Vila followed a period of instability with four changes of prime ministers in the past four years.

- PNC sources