Govt suspends Principal Electoral Officer — just 19 days before national election

Something is rotten in the state of Vanuatu. 19 days out from the national election, Principal Electoral Officer Lawson Samuel has been suspended and replaced by Lionel Kaluat. Minister of Internal Affairs George Wells cannot tell us why yet, he says. Does Harry Iauko have a hand in this?

The official candidate list will be named today. This is the list of candidates are those whose application has been declared valid. The Vanua’aku Pati is ready with its 28 candidates, says Daily Post today, its Vision and Mission statements already prepared and its 2012 Platform almost at the printers.

The Police suspensions and the ‘mutiny case’ saga continues. Daily Post‘s coverage concerns the legality of recent suspensions. “An attempt to arrest Caretaker Minister of Internal Affairs, George Wells, in relation to the mutiny case” is alleged by the suspended members. This seems to be bringing us closer to what was really going on with this ‘mutiny’ — political interference at the highest level in Vanuatu Police Force (VPF) and VMF affairs. This is what really needs investigating — but not by the heavily-implicated outgoing caretaker Government, who certainly cannot be trusted to do this.

On Radio Vanuatu News, Acting Police Commissioner Arthur Caulton says he stopped investigations into the mutiny case because the Supreme Court had struck out the case. Caulton said it was the right of any force member to take the matter further, to the courts, if he still felt there were grounds and a case of mutiny had to be answered. However, it would be a waste of time to continue the investigation when there is much other police work outstanding and when the election is so close.

Radio New Zealand International reports that former Police Commissioner Joshua Bong lost his appeal case because his contract did not retrospectively include some subsequently-introduced terms of employment.

Political involvement in police affairs is also implicated in the increase in salaries for VPF personnel. George Wells is increasing VPF salaries by up to Vt 4,000 per month, Daily Post reports. Wells admits this has been an issue for nearly 15 years. So why is it only being dealt with in Wells’ last 18 days in office?

The Australian Seasonal Worker Program was dragged into Wells’ campaign yesterday (illegally, we might add, as campaigning can’t legally begin until the candidate list has been announced), with the “launching” of the programme at the Seafront. 113 ni-Vanuatu are already working in Australia.

The land intended for the Santo Courthouse has had namele leaves placed on it to signify an ownership dispute. Daily Post reports that the land is “owned” by the Botara Trust land at Luganville.


3 Comments on “Govt suspends Principal Electoral Officer — just 19 days before national election”

  1. Sewii George says:

    Yesterday’s Daily Post’s front page photo caption: ‘Jubilant VP top-brass’…What are they celebrating?? They have just engineered another split VP again!!