My Days and Weeks in Port Vila, Vanuatu

11 Jan

Side Note: Vanuatu Politics
22 December 2010

I may not have mentioned it a lot but most days I marvel at the Daily Post. To err is human, and I can live with the typos and errors (such as a headline repeated twice in the same box, or part of a sentence/para repeated). What is deeply troubling is the “awakeness” of the front page editor. There is always a huge headline and a photo. Often they are not about the same topic. Take today:

BIG headline: MP Areiasuv assaulted by mob [they don’t believe in caps for headlines]

HUGE photo [pixilated because the original wasn’t that big]

What is the conclusion? That the MP was attacked by three Santas on a bike, no? There was a little caption under the photo saying it was taken in Chennai, India and it said that Vanuatu wasn’t the only country to start celebrating Christmas.

Sad story for the country really, since this MP was assaulted for defecting to the opposition and signing a motion of no confidence to oust the current Prime Minister. Sato Kilman ousted the previous PM Edward Natapei, just after he left for the Cancun Climate Change conference by convincing MPs from the party in power to join his side, in return for… Well, let’s just say that the ministers have been shuffled and reshuffled and there are new portfolios. That motion was deemed invalid by the Speaker, using false excuses.

For example, he said two signatures were forged. The MPs came out and said “No, they are real.” They deposited the motion again. The Deputy authorized it while the Speaker was in Australia for medical leave, and the latter ran back to Vanuatu to deny the motion again (grounds? Who needs them?!) and close the Parliament until January 20. Quite a sad period for this country’s democracy. It is the very first time that an MP is attacked for switching side – a normal occurrence, as is ousting PMs.

Now that you have the background, you can appreciate the second headline on the front page: Speaker asks media for fair reporting. Haha. Oh and I forgot to mention that just before the vote to oust the previous PM, they had all the media leave the room, and no public access. Both acts going against the Constitution.

The URA reports to the Lands and Finance ministries. The latter was ousted when the current PM took over, aka the first shuffle. The former was sworn in on Friday, which is known as another re-shuffle. Who knows how it will affect us. I am just a neutral observer.
Anyway, back to the front page editor and his choices for pictures. Last week there was a big picture of Natapei next to Fiji’s PM Bainimarama and a big headline: Reconciliation. Except that they didn’t reconcile! Teo other guys did. One of the “reasons” to oust Natapei was because he refused to recognize Bainimarama who came to power through a coup and hence refused to pass on the chairmanship of the Melanesian Spearhead Group to Fiji as planned. Kilman went to the Solomon Islands to reconcile the two countries and handed over the chairmanship. Bainimarama didn’t show up, the Foreign Affairs Minister drank the kava and accepted the pigs. Natapei, meanwhile, was depositing his motion to oust Kilman. [It’s a long tradition here to oust PMs whilst they’re traveling.]
This was my side note on Vanuatu politics. We’ll see how things go in the coming weeks.

2 Responses to “My Days and Weeks in Port Vila, Vanuatu”


  1. Home « Traveling Tastebuds - 15 J0000002Australia/Sydney 2011

    […] and never really made an effort to plant roots. I did enjoy my life there, as you can read from my earlier blog entries, in particular diving in Port Vila’s and Luganville’s turquoise […]

  2. Two Sides of Vanuatu « Travelling Tastebuds - 15 J0000006Australia/Sydney 2011

    […] November 2010-January 2011 – My Days and Weeks in Port Vila […]

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