Vanuatu’s political scene changes rapidly: PM

Vanuatu Prime Minister Charlot Salwai Tabimasmas. Picture: LOOP PNG

PORT VILA, 20 SEPTEMBER 2018 (VANUATU DAILY POST) – While administration and political reforms have been conducted worldwide, Oceania has its own narratives.

Prime Minister Charlot Salwai made the above statement in his official opening remarks at the Regional Conference on Legal and Regulatory Framework for Political Parties Wednesday.

The Pacific island states, usually referred to as Oceania, vary significantly in many critical respects of their geography and social, economic and political system.

Generally speaking, the Pacific was once considered to be unique in the former colonial world for the longevity of its political institutions and constitutions.

“However, over the past two decades, the region has become increasingly unstable politically,” said PM Salwai.

“The political conflicts in the Pacific Islands have created the so called an arc of instability stretching from Papua New Guinea to Solomon Islands, Vanuatu to Fiji, and more recently Tonga, as reflected by the 2006 riots in the capital Nuku’alofa. The political instability in the Pacific has continued since the start of the 21st century.

“As those of you who follow Vanuatu politics and current affairs will know and understand the political landscape in Vanuatu, the issue of political stability, potential constitutional reform and the role of political parties have long been issues in the news here in Vanuatu. And I say that Vanuatu’s political scene changes rapidly.

He mentioned the Government had previously announced its plan to look at introducing measures to provide for increased political stability and improved governance in Vanuatu. In particular, the issue of creating a modern, effective and transparent legal and regulatory framework for the creation, registration and operation of political parties remains a key challenge and priority.

“We have withdrawn our broader constitutional reform bill in order to allow us to focus on the key on the key issue of political parties and look to create consensus on the key content that should be included in a Bill to regulate political parties,” he said.

“I have appointed a Taskforce to do a detail analysis, and to provide a working paper to the parliament in November of this year. This will form the basis for preparing us for a drat Political Parties Bill, which will be table in Parliament hopefully next year.

“It is for this reason that we asked UNDP to assist us through the Vanuatu Electoral Environment Project, which is funded by the Governments of New Zealand, to provide us with information from the Pacific region and beyond on this important topic as well as facilitating consultation on which measures could be introduced in Vanuatu.”

On Friday, the Vanuatu Government will be holding a consultation meeting with a wide range of national stakeholders to discuss the dialogue at this regional conference and what might be relevant to the situation in Vanuatu.

“It is for this reason that I am looking forward to hearing how Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Fiji, New Zealand and other countries have addressed some of these issues and o hear what has worked, and maybe just as importantly, which has not worked and why,” said PM Salwai.

He acknowledged UNDP and all the donor partners who have contributed to this event – the Governments of New Zealand, and Australia respectively, the European Union and the Konrad AdenauerStiftung Foundation.

“I would like to close by referring to the UN Sustainable Development Goal 16 which talks of good governance and effective political institutions and also the VNDP that has as a key commitment the enactment of political reforms that promote stability, accountability, constituency representation and civic engagement,” he said.

“As a country, we recognise, that in order to achieve the goals outlined in the VNDP, that stability, good and effective governance of our countries is a prerequisite to service delivery and strong, continuous, sustainable development and economic growth.

“This conference is an important step for Vanuatu in considering the systems in the other countries as we look to examine and improve our governance systems with the aim of being robust but stable parliamentary democracy.”

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