Vanuatu Speaker says “sorry” to former deputy PM

PORT VILA, 16 AUGUST 2018 (VANUATU DAILY POST) – Vanua’aku Pati (VP) Member of Parliament (MP) Esmon Saimon has performed a custom reconciliation ceremony to VP interim President, Joe Natuman in Port Vila.

The custom reconciliation ceremony held on Monday evening was purposely to iron out any differences and bad feelings which may have emerged after MP Saimon -in his capacity as the Speaker of Parliament- prohibited former MP and Deputy Prime Minister Natuman from attending Parliament after his conviction in the conspiracy case.

Staunch VP leaders, MPs and supporters including the Deputy Prime Minister Bob Loughman witnessed the ceremony.

MP Saimon told the VP Acting President that it was a hard decision for in such a situation because as a VP MP, his loyalty is to the President of the VP, but on the other hand, as the Speaker of Parliament responsible for the affairs of the national Parliament under the relevant laws of the country, he was obliged to uphold the laws of the country.

“I had to step aside as the Speaker of Parliament, take on my VP MP position to perform this reconciliation custom ceremony to you, the VP Acting President (Joe Natuman),” he said.

“It is our customary way, to say ‘sorry’ because one of the MPs under your leadership had to make that decision at the time, which saw you vacate your chair in Parliament.

“It was a difficult thing for anyone to do to his own leader, but I had to act according to the laws of the country and in my capacity as the Speaker.

“However, according to our custom, it would have been difficult for me when we come to meet during VP political meetings and such occasions, because I would always bear this feeling about what happened.

“We are humans and inevitably when it comes to politics we are always loyal to our party.

“I recall that after the 2015 national elections, you, as the Acting President, called me and told me that you would recommend me as the next Speaker of the national parliament. You did it and it was a bond between VP MPs.”

He added: “Today, I want to smooth out the feelings I have so that we can continue to work together in our political party capacities as VP MPs and grow the party, in preparations for the 2020 elections and other party commitments to our supporters and this nation.

“As Christians, we must always seek forgiveness and reconciliation when we feel something hinders us or affect our feelings towards one another.

“It is for this reasons that I want to say  ‘I am sorry’ to you ( Joe Natuman) as the VP Acting President, please accept this customary forgiveness and reconciliation gifts of mats, yam, kava and money, please accept it”.

In accepting the forgiveness and reconciliation custom gifts, the VP Acting president Natuman assured MP Saimon, that he had nothing against him in relation to the decision he made because as the Speaker of Parliament, he had to rule in accordance with the laws of the country.

“I have nothing against you, because the laws of the country must always prevail,” he said.

“The Vanua’aku Pati always uphold the laws of the country. It must and shall always stand by this. When the final decision of the court was made, I accepted this and so there is nothing I hold against anyone.”

He said it was in the best interests of the national parliament and the country that MP Saimon made the decision.

“While it is true that sometimes it is difficult for us at the helm of different political parties, at the end of the day, the laws of the land must always be upheld,” said Natuman.

“I am glad that as the Speaker you uphold the laws of the land, because I knew you did the right thing by upholding the laws of the country. I accept the reconciliation gifts.”

The interim VP president thanked everyone present and pointed out that the party has major events ahead.

“As the only major political party that stood up for the political independence of this country, the VP Executive will meet to select the final candidate to contest the Tanna By-Election on Tuesday.

“We are celebrating the 47th Anniversary of the founding of the Vanua’aku political party on Friday this week, followed by the VP political Congress in October of this year.”

Commenting on the upcoming Tanna By-Election, the VP’s interim president said the party has a strong chance to win the one seat up for grabs.

“VP has over 3,000 eligible voters on Tanna, and we (VP) will retain that parliamentary seat after the 25th September poll,” said Natuman.

Pastor Alan Nafuki offered a reconciliatory prayer over MP Saimon and Natuman, followed by a kava ceremony during which the VP interim president announced to the VP Leaders and supporters present: “This is a forgiveness, reconciliation and solidarity ceremony towards victory in 2020 victory and beyond”.

All leaders and supporters shouted the VP slogan “Seli Hoo!” to end the ceremony.

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