Link: Pacific Islands Report
Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

With Support From Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i

Vanuatu MP Claims Kilman Elected Without Settling Land Rent
Liberal party president to challenge of PM’s election in court

By Len Garae

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Nov. 22, 2012) – It is too late now for the Electoral Office to give any explanation how it allowed then caretaker Prime Minister Sato Kilman to contest the elections on October 30 without settling his Vt13 million [US$140,237] outstanding land rent.

If justice is to be seen to prevail then Opposition Grouping MP Willie Jimmy is determined for the Supreme Court to rule on the election of former caretaker Prime Minister Sato Kilman.

If the Court rules that his election is unlawful, it is likely to cause the Government to collapse to force Parliament to reconvene to elect a new Government.

The outspoken MP and President of the Vanuatu Liberal Party has confirmed his intention to file relevant documents through his legal counsel Willie Daniel with the Registrar of the Supreme Court before November 27, to challenge the decision of the Electoral Office for allowing Sato Kilman to contest the October 30 general elections, even though his records showed that he had yet to settle his outstanding land rent with the Government totaling Vt13 million.

He says two other lawyers are also joining his lawyer to work as one team to lodge the case in court.

Jimmy says he will also seek the support of the Vanuaaku Pati and Graon mo Jastis Pati to stand with him in his push to get the Court to rule on whether or not the Electoral Office acted within the law to allow Kilman to contest the general elections on October 30. "Clearly it is a Government of the Republic of Vanuatu invoice (on land rent) and I have a copy of it dating from June 2011 to June 2012 so I know that it has yet to be settled", he says.

MP Jimmy says he was campaigning in Torba Province when he received an urgent message from his family in Port Vila to settle his outstanding land rent totaling Vt46,000 [US$496]. "I immediately advised my family to settle the amount but even so, my name was not on the list of eligible candidates. When I asked why, they explained that I also had an outstanding tax for a bus that dated back to 2004," he remembers.

"God knows why I was allowed to contest the 2008 without any mention of the tax at the time. I sold the bus to a client back in 2004 and they waited for me until 2012 to get me to settle the tax.

"It is not fair on those of us who had to apply drastic measures to clear our names to contest while one of us was allowed to sail through the elections without completing his outstanding obligation to the Government."

MP Jimmy also wishes to reply to the Director General of Lands, Joe Ligo’s letter in the last issue of Daily Post. "I worked with Mr. Ligo in the past as the DG of Justice then Lands and I still have a lot of respect for his professionalism both as a public servant as well as a lawyer and have nothing personal against him," the MP says.

"But I find it difficult to understand Mr. Ligo’s attempt to distance the Ministry and Department of Lands from Mr. Kilman’s outstanding land rents. All land rents and debts from Government statutory bodies are collected by the Government as required by law. The outstanding land rents issue of Lakatoro public land is a totally different case compared to the outstanding Vt13 million land rents and it is up to Mr. Kilman if he wants to take the case to court.

"I remember that there were three custom landowners in the Lakatoro case and when I was the Minister of Finance, I remember paying out an amount by check totaling Vt30 million [US$323,625] to one of the landowners called Harold."

He says the Kilman Family is not the sole custom landowner of Lakatoro.

MP Jimmy wishes to thank every member of the public who has used the social media to support the stand he has taken against the Vt13 million outstanding land rent.

Vanuatu Daily Post:
Copyright 2012 Trading Post Limited. All Rights Reserved

Go back to Pacific Islands Report