Prime Minister of Vanuatu loses seat over paperwork error

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Monday, November 30, 2009

Edward Natapei, the Prime Minister of Vanuatu has lost his position and parliamentary seat over a paper work blunder. Natapei was in Trinidad and Tobago at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and his staff failed to file the paperwork that notified the parliamentary speaker of his absence.

Under Vanuatu law, since he missed three consecutive sittings of parliament without notifying the speaker in writing, he must forfeit his seat. In order to comply with the law, Natapei would have needed to submit a signed explanation for his absence to the speaker. The last time a similar event occurred was in the 1980s when a Member of Parliament lost his job for failure to notify the speaker of his absence. Despite appealing the forfeiture, he was not reinstated.

Natapei is now on his way back from Trinidad and Tobago. The nation is currently being run by a caretaker government. Members of Parliament are set to vote for a new Prime Minister next week.

Natapei was elected Prime Minister on September 22, 2008, as President of the socialist, Anglophone Vanua'aku Pati party. After 14 months in office, he now holds the record for the shortest term as prime minister in Vanuatu's history. He first served as Prime Minister from 2001–2004.