Regenvanu warns over ‘misleading’ media speculation on Vanuatu government

Ralph Regenvanu ... coalition agreement. Image: PMC archive

The president of the Graon mo Jastis Pati (GJP), Ralph Regenvanu, has called on local and foreign media organisations to be cautious about reporting “speculative statements” by politicians on the formation of Vanuatu’s new government tomorrow.

But in a separate report by Godwin Lego, the Vanuatu Daily Post also reported that party groups which had secured the highest votes in unofficial results had “kick-started” negotiations.

In a media conference, one of the leaders in the Reunification for Change political bloc, Vanua’aku Pati interim president, Joe Natuman, a former prime minister, confirmed that negotiations are already taking place, with other political and independent groupings, to form a new government after last week’s snap election.

Regenvanu said it was a common strategy at times for politicians to try and influence elected candidates to join one side or the other with false statements about how blocs were being formed, and how many numbers of elected candidates were in such blocs.

The “unfiltered” reporting by the media of such politically motivated, speculative and often deliberately false comments could be misleading for citizens and often negatively affected a considered approach to coalition building by political parties.

 “There is still conflicting information regarding the unofficial results in some if not many constituencies at this stage,” he said.

“Until all information pertaining to the snap general elections results is fully verified, counted and officially declared by the Electoral Commission, all local and foreign media organisations should take a cautious approach in their reporting, especially as to which parties or groupings would form the new government.

‘Classic example’
“A classic example is the recent Sanma Provincial Elections, when certain media organisations prominently reported a member of the caretaker government claiming that the parties in the caretaker government had already signed an MOU between the majority of newly-elected councilors to form the new Sanma provincial government.”

A few days later, that story was proven to be false when the new president of the Sanma Provincial Council was elected with a landslide vote in favour of the GJP Councillor John Aru, said Regenvanu.

Local media organisations had misled the public by “not attempting to verify or cross-check what the politician in question had said but rather reported it as of it were true”.

GJP president Regenvanu, who is also on the top six winning candidate on the provisional list for Port Vila 6 Seats Constituency, has asked local and foreign media organisations to try to get comments from all the political groupings before running news stories.

He said they should refrain from speculating on how the new government would be formed and leave it to the politicians themselves to decide through considered negotiations as to which political parties and groupings will form the new government.

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