Vanuatu Daily News Digest | 17 October 2015Posted: October 17, 2015
The story today is mainly clarification of what’s happened this week, and a summing up, and apologies for any repetition. President Lonsdale, as already advised, said when cancelling the pardons issued by his deputy Pipite "the acting President (Marcellino Pipite) should have let justice run its course. He never sought my advice, and he used the powers of my office to pardon the MPs concerned, including himself, on tenth October." Eleven Members of Parliament convicted on bribery charges were thus arrested yesterday, together with their legal advisers allegedly involved with them in what has become a conspiracy to defeat the judicial processes, contrary to the penal code. President Lonsdale revoked their pardons. Ministers Paul Telukluk (Lands), Tony Wright (Education), Tony Nari (Public Works) and Thomas Laken (Climate Change) were therefore removed from their ministerial positions by PM Kilman and these ministries remain vacant presently.
The other MPs arrested and allegedly involved in the pardoning conspiracy, following a court order by Justice Oliver Saksak, are Marcellino Pipite, Paul Telukluk, Thomas Laken, Silas Yaten, Tony Nari, John Amos, Arnold Prasad, Tony Wright, Sebastien Harry, Jean-Yves Chabot and Jonas James.
The town was peaceful, albeit with considerable traffic congestion, as the arrests took place yesterday.
The lawyers detained are Robin Kapapa, Gregory Takau and Wilson Iauma.
Justice Saksak pointed out that of the fourteen named and convicted in court on the bribery charges, the following were not arrested yesterday on the conspiracy charges associated with the Pipite premature pardons. They have not been incarcerated. Moana Carcasses, Steven Kalsakau, Serge Vohor and Willie Jimmy were allegedly not involved in the pardon conspiracy matter led by formerly acting President Pipite.
We can end this week by noting that this afternoon the victory celebration of Kenneth Natapei of the Vanua’aku, National United and Lan Mo Jastis parties, is beginning in Port Vila. The events of the week are therefore having an unequivocal and unifying closure.
We had seen MPs charged and convicted over bribery arranged by one who, despite the 52 million dollars from Hong Kong and America didn’t become Prime Minister. Another did. And he now, this latter, has half his cabinet convicted and half of them already imprisoned as well. All that said, Vanuatu is proving its ability to stay strong as the young nation with, as the President says, nobody being above the law. We are having a peaceful weekend.
And hope you are, too.