Vanuatu. According to countryaah, the country’s president, Kalkot Kelekele, in June appealed to Parliament and the government to try to overcome the political instability in the country. The policy is characterized by personal power struggles, government transformations and many distrustful votes against incumbent prime ministers. Kelekele proposed eight constitutional amendments, which he believed should be able to begin discussion in 2009 and be introduced before the next parliamentary elections in 2012. One of the proposals was that the country should have a people-elected president who is both head of state and heads the government. Kelekele also suggested that Parliament should not be able to dismiss the president through a vote of no confidence, but that he/ she could only be dismissed by a special body. Kelekele’s term of office expired in August. In September, Parliament appointed Iolu Johnson Abil as his successor to the presidential post, which is largely representative. Johnson Abil had previously been a minister in the first government after Vanuatu’s independence in 1980.
In November, Prime Minister Edward Natapei reformed the government for the second time since he took office after the parliamentary elections in September 2008. Half of the ministerial posts went to opposition politicians, which was a way to avoid another vote of no confidence. At the same time, this meant that Parliament’s Speaker, Maxime Carlot Korman, would resign when the party he is leading, the Vanuatu Republican Party, had been forced to leave the government and run into opposition. Korman was to be replaced by George Wells, but for the longest time tried to remain in his post. When Prime Minister Natapei was on November 27-29 at the Commonwealth Summit in Trinidad and Tobago, the President tried to dismiss him. Korman announced that Natapei had lost his seat in Parliament because he had been absent from three consecutive sessions without giving written notice, as required by law. Such neglect gives the President the right to dismiss a Member of Parliament and Natapei would also lose his post as Prime Minister. Natapei appealed to the Supreme Court, which on December 5 surprisingly ruled that the decision to exclude Natapei from Parliament violated the Constitution. Natapei was allowed to retain his parliamentary seat and continue as prime minister. Even before the court had made its decision, the opposition demanded another vote of no confidence against Prime Minister Natapei, the fifth since he came to power in September 2008. The vote took place on December 10 and Natapei survived this too. In 2009, the government was unable to dismiss Korman from the President’s post because he succeeded in stopping all debates and votes on the issue.