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    Prime Minister condemns Opposition boycott

    Prime Minister Loughman has condemned a boycott of the first ordinary sitting of the Parliament on Thursday by Opposition MPs as political game-playing.

    Both the Prime Minister and Vanuatu’s Ministry of Health say the Opposition claims that sparked Thursday’s Parliamentary boycott are false.

    The Opposition MPs claim the Climate Change Minister, Bruno Leingkone, presents a health risk because he broke the government’s COVID-19 regulations.

    The Opposition MPs who did not attend the Parliamentary sitting today, claim Minister Leingkone broke the regulations when he went to a quarantine facility in Port Vila earlier this week.

    But the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Health says the Climate Change Minister poses no health risks because he had observed social distancing regulations while at the facility.

    The Public Health Director and Vanuatu’s COVID-19 Spokesperson, Len Tarivonda, says a health assessment has shown that the Climate Change Minister was not at risk of getting COVID-19 or transferring the infection.

    The Prime Minister says the Opposition Leader should have verified the allegations before taking action on the matter which he says is “everybody’s concern”.

    The Opposition Leader, Ralph Regenvanu, has called on the Government and Prime Minister to act on the case.

    “The law of Vanuatu must apply equally to all Vanuatu citizens … we are not making laws for some people to be tricky. Therefore, I call upon the Government, [and the] Prime Minister, to do something about such cases.”

    “This is not the first time this Minister has done something like this,” Mr Regenvanu said.

    The Speaker of Parliament, Gracien Shadrack, adjourned the sitting because there was no quorum for Parliament to continue and it has been adjourned to Tuesday 16 June.

    Mr Leingkone says when he entered the quarantine facility earlier this week, he was in the presence of protocol officers, the Commander of Vanuatu Police Force South, the Vanuatu National Disaster Management Office’s Operation Manager and a COVID-19 Committee member.

    He says, “They arranged my visit and there were COVID-19 protocols in place. When I entered the facility, I went straight to the administration and met only with the manager of the facility. I was there for only ten minutes and then left the facility.”

    Minister Leingkone says he did not meet with any of those in quarantine and was at the facility to talk about a police officer who was in quarantine there.

    The Minister says he also gave assurance to the manager that security would be maintained at the facility.






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