Vanuatu political impasse continues

The Opposition has won its case in the Supreme Court which found that a recent motion of no confidence in Prime Minister Ishmael Kalsakau should have passed. The Speaker of Parliament has now lodged an appeal against this decision.

If the appeal fails a further motion of no confidence will be debated and the expectation is that Kalsakau will be removed as Prime Minister. However, it is not clear who from the current Opposition will be put forward to replace him. Former Deputy Prime Minister Sato Kilman has been playing a major role in the political theatrics thus far.

Whilst some have tried to portray this situation as being influenced by geopolitical concerns, it is very much a creature of domestic politics and politicking. The wider population appears to be increasingly frustrated with the antics of their elected representatives.

Melanesian Spearhead Group summit concludes

The 22nd summit of the leaders of the Melanesian Spearhead Group was held recently in Port Vila. It was the first meeting of the leadership of the sub-regional grouping since 2018. The theme of the summit was “MSG being relevant and influential”.

The leaders of the five full members signed two declarations: the UDUANE Declaration on Climate Change and the Efate Declaration on Mutual Respect, Responsibility, Cooperation and Amity.

However, it was the decision on the application for membership made by the United Liberation Movement of West Papua (ULMWP) that garnered most attention. The leaders’ communiqué not only knocked back the ULMWP’s application but also indicated that there is no pathway for them to have membership as this is only available to independent countries. The decision has been greeted with disappointment, sadness, and anger within West Papua and across the region.

Other Pacific News:

In Fiji, there have been marches of protest as the discharge of treated wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear disaster commenced. Civil society leaders have called on the government to take a stronger stand with Japan on this matter.

A motion of no confidence in Prime Minister Siaosi Sovaleni Hu’akavameiliku has been filed by ten MPs in Tonga. Previous attempts to remove the PM in Tonga by way of a motion of no confidence have been unsuccessful.

Australia’s Minister for Climate Change and Energy, Chris Bowen, travelled to Fiji to meet with his Pacific counterparts to seek support for Australia to host COP 31. The Pacific Elders Voice said such support should be predicated on greater climate ambition from Australia.

The people of Banaba have called for greater consultation regarding a proposal by an Australian mining company to explore further extraction of phosphate on the island. They have urged the governments of Fiji and Kiribati to put a stop to the process.

The 50th annual conference of the Pacific Islands Chiefs of Police is being held in Australia. The focus of the conference is cybercrime and countering child exploitation. Speakers at the event include officials from each of the “Five Eyes” countries.


Tess Newton Cain is a Senior Research Fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute and project lead for the Griffith Pacific Hub.