Vanuatu Supreme Court confirms 19 Govt MPs lose seats

Vanuatu, with an estimated population of 280,000 people spread across roughly 80 islands, is...
Vanuatu, with an estimated population of 280,000 people spread across roughly 80 islands, is among more than a dozen Pacific island nations that already face rising sea levels. Photo: Getty Images
Vanuatu Supreme Court judge, Justice Oliver Saksak, has upheld a decision by the former Speaker of Parliament to expel 19 government MPs from parliament.

The court ruling could trigger the collapse of Vanuatu's government but a subsequent appeal is likely to grant a stay of execution for the administration of Bob Loughman.

Gracia Shadrack, who resigned the speakership earlier this week, ruled last week that the 19, who include Prime Minister Loughman, had vacated their seats by failing to attend parliament on three consecuative days.

The 19 MPs had sought a court ruling claiming their constitutional rights had been breached.

The group of MPs is planning to appeal and is to seek a stay on the court's decision.

If that appeal is rejected there is likely to be 19 by-elections in Vanuatu.

It has also been reported locally that the remaining 13 government MPs are being encouraged to consider resigning and so forcing a full election.

The case came after the opposition had lodged a motion for a vote of no confidence which prompted the government to seek to remove the Speaker.

Both those motions were to be heard this past week but the appeal over the vacation of seats took precedence.

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