Monday, October 12, 2015

How it works in Vanuatu

On Friday, a Vanuatu court convicted Deputy Prime Minister Moana Carcasses and 13 other MPs of bribery over payments Carcasses made to influence a confidence motion. Among those convicted was Speaker of the House Marcellino Pipite, who was coincidentally acting President due to the President being out of the country. Like the others, Pipite would almost certainly lose his seat (and status and salary) next week after sentencing, but he had a simple solution: pardon everyone:

Vanuatu's acting president Marcellino Pipite has confirmed he has used his interim executive powers to pardon himself and 13 other MPs convicted of bribery.

Mr Pipite told assembled media in his office in Port Vila that the pardon was to maintain peace and unity in Vanuatu.

He pointed to disturbances in Solomon Islands, Bougainville and Fiji as reasons behind maintaining the nearly one-third of parliamentary members convicted of bribery on Friday.

When pressed on how the bribery convictions could spark instability, Mr Pipite failed to answer.

Its transparently a self-interested move to protect his position and the power of the current government. And while its certainly legal, its also unquestionably unconstitutional, in the sense that it is not how things are supposed to be done in a democratic state under the rule of law. These MPs have behaved corruptly. They should pay the price for that, including being unseated and replaced by people who haven't. Instead, Vanuatu's Speaker has abused his office to protect himself and his friends - and by doing so sent a clear message that corruption will be tolerated and protected if it benefits those in power. It is total banana republic stuff. And Vanuatu's voters should force him from office for it.