Vanua’aku Pati’s Bob Loughman becomes new Vanuatu PM

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Vanuatu PM Bob Loughman
Vanuatu's new Prime Minister Bob Loughman being sworn in yesterday. Image: Kizzy Kalsakau/Vanuatu Daily Post

By Godwin Ligo, Terence Malapa and Kizzy Kalsakau in Port Vila

The new Prime Minister of the Republic of Vanuatu is Bob Loughman, president of the Vanua’aku Pati, the party that led the country into independence in 1980.

Loughman succeeds outgoing Prime Minister Charlot Salwai, who served a full four-year term.

The election of the new Prime Minister took place yesterday afternoon during the first sitting of the new 12th Legislature of the Republic of Vanuatu.

READ MORE: Consider government of national unity, suggests former PM Ham Lini

All 52 MPs in the new Legislature were present during the first sitting.

The new state ministers appointed under Prime Minister Loughman’s leadership yesterday evening are:

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Internal Affairs – Ishmael Kalsakau (Port Vila MP)
Minister for Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry, Fisheries and Biosecurity – Willie Daniel (Tongoa)
Minister for Finance – Johnny Koanapo Rasou (Tanna)
Minister for Health – Silas Bule (Pentecost)
Minister for Climate Change, Meteorology and Geohazards – Bruno Lengkon (Ambrym)
Minister for Lands – Jack Norris Kalmet (Efate Rural)
Minister for Youth and Sports Development – Willie Pakoa Saatearoto (Shepherds)
Minister for Justice and Community Services – Esmon Saimon (Malekula)
Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade – Marc Ati (Luganville)
Minister for Education – Simeon Davidson Seoule (Epi)
Minister for Infrastructure and Public Utilities – Jay Ngwele (Ambae)

Prime Minister Loughman was first elected to Parliament in 2004, reelected into Parliament since then and again in last month’s March 19, 2020, general election.

He has held ministerial portfolios, including the Minister for Education and was Deputy Prime Minister in the Salwai-led government for a while before the Vanua’aku Pati was ousted from government and joined the Opposition bloc in the 11th Legislature.

Decisive vote
He was nominated for the position of the Prime Minister by Port Vila UMP MP and former Leader of Opposition, Ishmael Kalsakau. His rival, Port Vila MP and president of the Graon mo Jastis Pati Ralph Regenvanu, was nominated by former PM Salwai.

In a secret ballot vote by the 52 MPs yesterday afternoon, MP Bob Loughman received 31 votes to become the new Prime Minister of Vanuatu. MP Ralph Regenvanu received 21 votes.

There were two political groupings when Parliament convened yesterday morning. One group saw the Vanua’aku Pati (VP), the Union of the Moderate Parties (UMP), the National United Party (NUP), the Nagriamel political movement, the Green Confederation Party, and other MPs that made up a total of 30 MPs on one side of the chamber.

The other political grouping was made up of the Graon Mo Jastis Pati (GJP) that commands a total of 9 MPs in the new 12th Legislature, together with the Reunification of Movement for Change (RMC), the Leaders Party of Vanuatu (LPV), the Vanuatu Liberal Movement (VLM), and other political groups that make up 22 MPs.

The newly elected PM said he would make his first official address to the people and the nation of Vanuatu on tomorrow (Wednesday).

The Pacific Media Centre republishes Vanuatu Daily Post articles with permission.

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