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Vanuatu's 27th PM Calls for Political Stability

By Doddy Morris

The newly elected Prime Minister (PM) of Vanuatu, Charlot Salwai, said the system of changing the Government regularly does not help the country in terms of development.

Mr. Salwai, who became Vanuatu’s 27th PM yesterday, stated this during his official speech at the Parliament House in Port Vila after defeating the former PM, Sato Kilman in a motion of no confidence.

He went on to say that the system of changing the Government regularly will not attract new potential investor to Vanuatu and is not assuring the citizens of Vanuatu since there is no stability and continuity on the policies.

“We all know that Vanuatu is facing various challenges, including natural disasters such as climate change-related issues, economic and social challenges affecting our citizens, including challenges in the private sector, and last but not least, political instability,” PM Salwai said.

“It is less than 12 months since the establishment of Mr. Ishmael Kalsakau’s government after the October 2022 snap elections. Today marks the second time that we, as a nation, have changed a government.

“I apologise to the previous government, but we find ourselves in a democratic system where the composition of Parliament can change, and the government must adapt accordingly,” the newly elected PM stated.

He continues to state that one of the main responsibilities of the government he leads is to find, together with the opposition, legal solutions to address political instability, any government that achieves an “absolute majority” should not assume that the country will automatically adopt a system of political stability.

“Vanuatu, in the past years under successive governments, has adopted many good policies such as the National Sustainable Development Plan (NSDP) followed by each government ministry.

“We know that the government must address issues such as infrastructure, transportation, sea and air transportation, the national airline, utilities like telecommunications, energy, and water, education accessibility, and various issues concerning private sector growth and the legal vacuum within the public administration system. These issues require urgent attention,” the PM stated.

“A government with good policies must not fall into the trap of concentrating solely on programs that are hindered by slow progress due to civil servant inefficiency. An example is the recovery projects after natural disasters like cyclones or volcanic eruptions, which the people expect the government to deliver efficiently. People may blame the government for not doing its job, but in reality, the power to execute tasks lies in the hands of civil servants. However, when a government is concerned about its survival, it may not have the time to push its workers to perform.

“The government also needs to come up with new policies in response to the rapid global changes. This government will put a strong emphasis on foreign policy, something Vanuatu has not had since 1980. There are many opportunities out there for Vanuatu to capitalise on, but we must have the right policies in place to benefit from these opportunities.”

He announced that within two weeks’ time, his government will publish all the priority action programs which they will be working with during his term.

“I address you today as the head of Government, and we must take political instability seriously. We have a draft bill that is ready for review to suit the political environment of Vanuatu. Vanuatu’s rules must allow for different governments, but there are times when we need to have stability.

“I also appeal to the Head of State, the Chiefs of Malvatumauri Council of Chiefs, and the Church leaders through the Vanuatu Christian Council to support the government in its efforts to achieve political stability,” the PM said.

Mr. Salwai is serving as the PM of the Republic of Vanuatu for the second time. He was elected as the 23rd PM of Vanuatu on the 2nd of February in 2016 and served for four years till 20th of April 2020.

He had also served as an MP in the 7th Legislature from 2002 to 2004, 8th Legislature from 2004 to 2008, 9th Legislature from 2008 to 2012, 10th Legislature from 2012 to 2015, 11th legislature from 2016 to 2020 and the 13th legislature from 2020 to October 2022.

The newly elected government did not manage to appoint a Deputy PM (DPM) yesterday. PM Salwai stated that they will be meeting soon to appoint one.

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