Fri, Dec 03, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Vanuatu vote on Vohor postponed

CONSTITUTIONAL DEBATE Lawmakers have sought a court ruling on a rule that says a prime minister cannot face a no-confidence votes within a year of election

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Vanuatuan parliament has postponed its no-confidence vote on Prime Minister Serge Vohor over his establishment of diplomatic relations with Taiwan because of an unsettled constitutional article, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Taipei said yesterday.

Vohor, who signed a diplomatic communique with Taiwan on Nov. 3 without the approval of his Cabinet, was due to face the vote yesterday.

According to Article 43 of Vanuatu's Constitution, however, the parliament cannot call a no-confidence vote on the prime minister within a year of his or her election. Vohor, who was elected in July, would be immune from the vote if the article is proved valid.?

Ministry spokesman Michel Lu (呂慶龍) explained in a press conference that the validity of the article has been questioned because it had not been authorized by a public vote.

"Parliament Speaker J. Moli, therefore, decided to appeal to the Supreme Court for explanation on the article. The parliament will have to wait for the court ruling to decide whether it may proceed with the no- confidence vote," Lu said.

Lu praised Vohor's courage and determination to stand by his decision to build diplomatic ties with Taiwan even though the Vanuatuan prime minister faced enormous pressure from China and Australia.

Meanwhile, Lu confirmed that on Monday, Vanuatuan Foreign Minister Pipite Marcellino wrote a letter to Taiwanese diplomats based in the capital Port Vila, asking them to move out of a hotel where Taiwan has temporarily established its embassy.

According to Lu, Chinese diplomats in Port Vila have recruited local officials to harass the hotel staff for hosting the embassy.

The hotel has complained that the ongoing diplomatic war under its roof has seriously affected its operations.

Lu did not say where the embassy will move to but said the Vanuatu government has promised to find a proper place to locate it.

Lu stressed that even though the embassy is moving, its staff will continue to carry out their diplomatic duties.

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