Vanuatu 2004

Vanuatu People

Yearbook 2004

Vanuatu. The year was marked by political turbulence. During the first three months, the government was rebuilt three times as a result of layoffs. In March, President John Bani’s term of office expired. Only after four votes did Parliament succeed in April to appoint a new president, Alfred Maseng. Just a month later, Maseng was forced to resign since the Supreme Court annulled his election. The reason was that he forged a certificate that would show that he was not in the criminal record. The total population in Vanuatu is 307,156 people in 2020. The government coalition lost its majority in parliament, which is why Prime Minister Edward Natapei dissolved parliament and announced new elections. In the July 6 election, all major parties lost support, while several independent candidates entered parliament. Natapeis Vanuaaku Pati (VP) formed an interim government together with i.e. National United Party. But the political uncertainty continued.

The interim government boycotted the newly elected parliament’s July 26 meeting. As there were not enough members present, Parliament could not elect a new Prime Minister or President. To be resolute, 35 of the 52 members of Parliament are required to be present. Only the opposition bloc with 28 members, led by Serge Vohor, appeared. When Parliament rallied again on July 29, Vohor received the most votes and was elected new Prime Minister. He formed a government made up of independent ministers and representatives from several parties. The government got off to a shaky start. Several ministers were dissatisfied with the posts they were assigned and threatened to move to the opposition. It was speculated in a vote of no confidence and Vohor threatened to call for an emergency permit. On August 16, Kalkot Kelekele was elected new president.

In early September, the opposition carried a vote of no confidence, but the government won the vote and could remain. In October, Parliament voted in favor of four constitutional amendments proposed by Vohor to increase political stability in the country of Vanuatu. The amendments were aimed at limiting the ability of the MPs to switch parties and the possibility of a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister. Before the new constitution came into force, it was to be approved in a referendum scheduled for early 2005. In November, Vohor suddenly announced that Vanuatu had established diplomatic relations with Taiwan. This led to protests from a majority of the government, which wanted to continue to have unilateral relations with China. Vohor did not feel that Vanuatu had to choose sides in the China-Taiwan conflict, but could have good relations with both countries because there is a great need for assistance. At the same time, Vanuatu’s largest aid donor, Australia, threatened to withdraw its aid if there was no political order in the country.

In early December, six ministers resigned in protest against Vohors Taiwan decision. 15 members of the government went to the opposition, which aroused mistrust of the prime minister. Vohor’s minority government argued that a vote of no confidence in this situation would run counter to the constitution in view of the constitutional amendments that were tabled in October. The matter was decided in the Supreme Court, which held that there were no barriers to a vote of no confidence because the referendum on constitutional amendments had not yet been held. On December 10, Vohor lost the vote of no confidence and was forced to resign. He was replaced by Ham Lini, former Deputy Prime Minister, who formed a new government. Shortly thereafter, the new government decided to break relations with Taiwan and return to unilateral relations with China. A few days later, the Australian Foreign Minister visited the country. He was satisfied with the political development promised continued assistance.

Vanuatu People