Parliamentary turmoil: 19 MPs appeal ousting

Vanuatu’s Appeal Court will sit on 12 July to hear an appeal case by 19 ruling coalition Members of Parliament against a Supreme Court decision that their seats be vacated.

A Supreme Court conference yesterday, heard the 19 MPs, who include the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and five Government Ministers, were appealing the decision.

On 18 June, the Supreme Court upheld a ruling by the former Speaker of Parliament, Gracia Shedrack.

Mr Shadrack had ruled on 8 June that the 19 Government MPs’ seats should be declared vacant because he said they had not attended three consecutive days of Parliament on 1, 2 and 3 of June.

Justice Viran Molisa Trief ordered Sakiusa Kalsakau, the lawyer representing the 19 MPs, to file the appeal before close of business on Tuesday.

Justice Molisa Trief ordered the respondent which is the State Law Office to file the notice and grounds for cross appeal by 4.00pm on Wednesday.

The Supreme Court has listed the case – which could determine the fate of Vanuatu’s 15-month old ruling Coalition Government – for this Wednesday for the judge to consider the files and take notes.

Justice Molisa Trief requested the appellants to file and serve Part B of the appeal book by 4.00pm on Thursday and their submissions by close of business on Monday 5 July.

Justice Molisa Trief also requested the respondents and interested parties make submissions by 4.00pm on Wednesday 7 July.

Representing the 19 MPs, Mr Kalsakau said an overseas counsel would handle the appeal case.

Last week, four Government MPs defected to the Opposition, but on Tuesday, an Opposition motion of no confidence against Prime Minister Bob Loughman was defeated.

The motion was defeated with 27 votes against and 21 votes for.

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