Vanuatu Parliament elects new Prime Minister after appeal dismissed

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Vanuatu’s parliament will elect a new prime minister after the Pacific island nation’s court on Monday dismissed an appeal against a decision that would remove Ishmael Kalsakau from office.

Vanuatu, which is at the center of a strategic rivalry between China and Western countries in the region, has been mired in political uncertainty when opposition leader Bob Loughman filed a no-confidence petition criticizing Kalsakau for actions such as signing a security pact with Australia after his government’s election victory election last year.

The Supreme Court concluded that the opposition parties had won a no-confidence vote against Kalsakau, but the court had stayed the action to have Kalsakau deposed pending an appeal by the Speaker of Parliament.

The appeal was dismissed on Monday, a government spokesman said in a statement on social media. Parliament will again elect a new Prime Minister.

Loughman, who has drawn Vanuatu closer to China as a past prime minister, said the security deal with Australia jeopardizes Vanuatu’s “neutral” status and could jeopardize development aid from China, its largest external creditor.

Political cartoons about world leaders

The United States and its allies are trying to dissuade the Pacific island nations from establishing security ties with China after the country signed a security agreement with the Solomon Islands.

China has deployed police experts to Vanuatu amid the political crisis, and the Vanuatu Police said it will work with “all partners” – Australia, New Zealand and China.

(Reporting by Kirsty Needham; Editing by Michael Perry)

Copyright 2023 Thomson Reuters.

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