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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

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

Vanuatu Opposition Makes Cooperation Offer To PM
Natapei wants to work with state to address corruption

By Godwin Ligo

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Feb. 21, 2013) – The Opposition Leader, Edward Natapei, told Vanuatu’s Prime Minister Sato Kilman in a recent meeting that his group is ready to work with the government to resolve the current corruption issues in the country.

In a telephone interview with Daily Post yesterday, Natapei confirmed he had a meeting with Prime Minister Kilman to discuss a number of issues including corruption in the country.

"I can confirm that we had a meeting with the Prime Minister, Sato Kilman, upon his request and we did discuss a number of issues and how the Opposition can help the Government.

"One of the issues is corruption. The other of course is for Opposition to move in and work with the government.

"I made it clear to the Prime Minister that the Opposition is willing to help but that we have to move in as a whole bloc to work with Prime Minister Kilman."

On the question of whether an agreement has been reached, the Opposition Leader said he had made an offer and it is now up to the Prime Minister to decide on the offer.

The offer by the Opposition Leader would mean a major reshuffling by the Prime Minister to remove some of the current government coalition partners to make room for the whole of the Opposition MPs to move in with Prime Minister Kilman.

Whether or not the Prime Minister is prepared to accept the offer by Natapei remains to be seen.

The Leader of the Opposition cited a number of issues which he said the Opposition considers practices that need to be stamped out.

"There is the appointment of MP Moana Carcasses which the Opposition considers to be costing the country unnecessary spending because of the level of salary and other privileges that are accorded to him.

"This is a duplication of duties simply to support the government in terms of numbers but without value to the people and the nation.

"Secondly the Opposition considers the issue of the Internal Affairs Director General’s private company dealing with Visa applications as conflict of interest.

This is a corrupt practice by senior civil servant who already gets high salary and package from the government and yet is allowed to carry out a private company especially that deals with the issue of Visa which comes under the Ministry of Internal Affairs which he is the Director General.

"The Opposition is also concerned over the issue of a certain government minister sending his children to do their foundation courses at the University of the South Pacific in, Suva, Fiji and their fees covered from government funds while many parents fund foundation courses at the USP center here in Port Vila.

"This attitude on the part of the minister deprives other children whose parents cannot afford to meet required fees to do their foundation courses here in Port Vila. This is corruption.

"Then there is the issue of the Deputy Prime Minister of Vanuatu performing a custom reconciliation ceremony with the Deputy Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea.

"It clearly indicates that the Government was aware of the Vanuatu Foreign Affairs Minister’s visit to Papua New Guinea which resulted in that reconciliation ceremony performed to clear the Minister of Foreign Affairs and the government’s face with Papua New Guinea.

"If it was a private arrangement, then Minister of Foreign Affairs should undertake such a reconciliation ceremony himself.

"I did also mention to the Prime Minister that the Opposition has plans to introduce a number of bills in parliament that would combat corrupt practices in Vanuatu politics.

"One is to legislate for all funds that come from outside Vanuatu for political campaigns to be declared publicly where the funds come from and from what overseas sources and how such funds can be justified to help the people of Vanuatu.

"Another legislation the Opposition would like to have introduced is for a political party that scores the highest number of MPs after a general election to be up front to form a government as opposed to the present system where political parties use money to bribe elected MPs with money to gain number to form government," Opposition Leader Natapei said of their recent meeting with Prime Minister Kilman.

It remains to be seen if Kilman will politically accommodate some of the views and offers made by the Opposition Leader Natapei at their recent dialogue.

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