Vanuatu chiefs call for PM to resign

Vanuatu chiefs call for PM to resign

One of Vanuatu's highest-ranked chiefs has called for the country's Prime Minister to resign following the imprisonment of 14 MPs.  

The bribery scandal implicating the MPs has left the country in state of political turmoil.  

Vanuatu is still recovering from one of the worst cyclones on record. Now it's in the grip of another disaster – a political storm that has left the Government in need of a major repair job.

Chief Seni Mao Tirsupe is one of the highest-ranked chiefs in the land, representing hundreds of village leaders from around the nation. He agrees the scandal has been damaging for Vanuatu's reputation around the world.

"Yes. I think to me I'm very ashamed. And I think it's good for the leaders, ministers, members of Parliament, Prime Minister – we should be ashamed for that because the whole world looks at what is happening in Vanuatu," he says. 

He's ashamed because 14 MPs have been jailed for taking cash bribes intended to influence key political decisions.

The Government's majority is in tatters and he wants the Prime Minister, Sato Kilman, to step down immediately. He believes he should resign.

"Vanuatu is a democratic country. So if you have any situation like this, always the Prime Minister should resign and then we talk to find a solution," he says.

Chief Tirsupe says corruption has been entrenched in Vanuatu politics for many years and that must change.

"It's happened more than that already in the past. I can say that. Firstly, we have to go back to the respect, respect the law," he says.

He said no to village leaders who visited him recently, wanting the MPs released from jail. 

He says he supports the decision by the country's President to dissolve Parliament and start again.

Only then, he says, will respect and integrity be returned to the country.

Chief Tirsupre says Vanuatu can get through this period of embarrassing political turbulence and that will start with a snap election scheduled for January 22.

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