Political instability, the MSG and regional politics – an interview with Prime Minister Joe Natuman of Vanuatu

Prime Minister Natuman

At the end of what had been a very busy week, Prime Minister Natuman took some time to sit down with Tess for Pacific Conversations. You can listen to a podcast of their conversation here or read the full transcript here. But for the highlights of what they discussed, read on…

I started by asking Prime Minister Natuman what his government hoped to achieve before the next general elections in 2016. He told me that a particular area of focus was addressing issues of political instability. As he pointed out, at Independence in 1980 there were only two political parties in Vanuatu but since then there has been a rise in the number of smaller political groupings. The prime minister is planning to take forward constitutional and legislative reform to address this issue:

… at the moment we are engaging with the Commonwealth Secretariat in London and they have discussed this issue recently. When I was in New York with the UN General Assembly, I talked with the Secretary General. They visited us a couple of weeks ago. And I will be talking with the Speaker of Parliament, so that during this November session we will organise a forum whereby members of Parliament and other stakeholders will be consulted on the way forward in this political reform.

In the same vein, we discussed reforms in Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, also aimed at reducing political instability and improving the integrity of political parties. The prime minister said that there was a need to look at what had happened in these neighbouring countries and establish what was the best course of action for Vanuatu in this regard. He advised that the registration of political parties, as very recently enacted in Solomon Islands, was something that was considered important:

… we’ll have to …read more

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