Serge Vohor

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Serge Vohor
Prime Minister of Vanuatu
In office
24 April 2011 – 13 May 2011
President Iolu Abil
Preceded by Sato Kilman
Succeeded by Sato Kilman
In office
27 November 2009 – 5 December 2009
Acting
President Iolu Abil
Preceded by Edward Natapei
Succeeded by Edward Natapei
In office
29 July 2004 – 11 December 2004
President Josias Moli (Acting)
Kalkot Mataskelekele
Preceded by Edward Natapei
Succeeded by Ham Lini
In office
30 September 1996 – 30 March 1998
President Jean Marie Leye Lenelgau
Preceded by Maxime Carlot Korman
Succeeded by Donald Kalpokas
In office
21 December 1995 – 23 February 1996
President Jean Marie Leye Lenelgau
Preceded by Maxime Carlot Korman
Succeeded by Maxime Carlot Korman
Personal details
Born 1955 (age 58–59)
Political party Union of Moderate Parties

Rialuth Serge Vohor (born 1955) is a politician from Vanuatu. He hails from the largest island of Vanuatu, Espiritu Santo, from Port Olry.

He is a member of the Union of Moderate Parties, a conservative, Francophone political party. When his party came to power in 1991, Vohor became foreign minister of Vanuatu for the first of three times, until 1993. Vohor has been Prime Minister four times, from December 1995 to February 1996; from September 1996 to March 1998; from 28 July 2004, to 11 December 2004; and from 24 April 2011 to 13 May 2011. The latter, brief term was however voided by the Court of Appeal, deeming his election unconstitutional as he had been elected only by a majority of Members of Parliament (26 out of 52), not by an absolute majority.[1]

Second term as prime minister and aftermath[edit]

In October 1996, during his second term as Prime Minister, he was abducted along with President Jean-Marie Léyé by members of the paramilitary Vanuatu Mobile Force, "disgruntled over a pay dispute". Both men were soon released unharmed.[2] In 1997, while still serving as prime minister, he was implicated in a scheme to sell Vanuatuan passports to foreigners, and the Office of the Vanuatu Ombudsman recommended that he resign from his post.[3]

After the 1998 parliamentary elections the Union of Moderate Parties could not form a coalition government, but Vohor still served as a prominent member of coalition governments led by other parties much of the time, serving as foreign minister again from 1999 until 2001. His party did not regain power in the 2002 parliamentary elections, but Vohor served as foreign minister for a third time from 2002 until 2003.

Third term as prime minister[edit]

In the parliamentary elections of 2004, the Union of Moderate Parties lost several seats. However, Vohor managed to form a coalition including independents and members of other parties to be elected Prime Minister. Vohor was elected Prime Minister by the Parliament with 28 votes, with his opponent, Ham Lini receiving 24. The following month, Vohor formed a national unity government with Lini as deputy prime minister.

While out of the country, Vohor was charged with contempt for comments he had made in parliament about Chief Justice Vincent Lunabek, but in September 2004 the Supreme Court threw out the charges on the grounds that Vohor had not been given the proper chance to defend himself in court, and that, furthermore, his comments were protected by parliamentary privilege.[4]

Vohor gained international attention when, on 3 November 2004, while on a secret visit to Taipei, he established diplomatic relations with the Republic of China (Taiwan) without approval from the Council of Ministers. The Council of Ministers voted to void the move and asserted Vanuatu's continued recognition of the People's Republic of China under its terms of the One-China policy. For weeks, both the ROC and PRC had diplomatic missions in Vanuatu with disagreement in the government over which government to recognize. On 1 December, Vohor punched (or pushed) the shoulder of the new ambassador from Beijing, Bao Shusheng, after being approached to explain why the flag of the Republic of China was still flying over a hotel in Port Vila. After 16 members of parliament who had supported Vohor joined the opposition, depriving him of a majority and leaving him with 15 out of 52 seats, the opposition tried to hold a no-confidence vote against Vohor.[5][6] Vohor attempted to prevent the vote in court, claiming that a new constitutional amendment barred no-confidence votes against a prime minister during his first year in office, but the Supreme Court ruled against him on 7 December, saying that the vote could go ahead because the new amendment had not yet been approved by referendum. Vohor then took the matter to the Court of Appeal,[6] but it also ruled against him; he was defeated in the no-confidence vote and replaced by Ham Lini.[7]

Later career[edit]

Since then Vohor has been the effective leader of the opposition. In March 2006 Vohor led an attempt to depose Lini through a no confidence vote, focusing on accusing Lini of weakness. However, the vote was defeated as not enough Parliament members who had supported the government defected.

On 27 July 2007, Vohor, who was serving as Minister of Public Utilities, allegedly assaulted an official from the Finance Ministry due to his pay being delayed. Despite of this allegation, there was no evidence to substantiate the assault ever taking place. In a cabinet reshuffle a few days later, he was one of several ministers dismissed from the government.[8] Vohor said that one reason the UMP was being excluded from the government was because of its strength, and said that the party would try to return to the government.[9]

After the 2 September 2008 general elections Vohor and his Union of Moderate Parties initially aligned itself with the opposition block which gave its support to Vanuatu Republican Party's Maxime Carlot Korman for the post of Prime Minister.

When a motion of No Confidence was tabled against new Prime Minister Edward Natapei,Serge Vohor and his MPs initially supported the no confidence motion; however, he eventually withdrew his signature to be in Natapei's government as its new Minister of Infrastructure and Public Utilities.

Fourth term as prime minister[edit]

See also: Vohor Cabinet (2011-)

On 24 April 2011 (Easter Sunday), Prime Minister Sato Kilman was narrowly ousted by a parliamentary vote of no confidence, by twenty-six votes to twenty-five. Usually, the opposition, led by Edward Natapei, had not fielded a candidate to succeed him. Parliament thus elected Serge Vohor to the post.[10]

His election was declared invalid on 13 May 2011, as he had been elected only bt a relative majority in Parliament, not an absolute one.[1]

Subsequent career[edit]

On 23 March 2013, new Prime Minister Moana Carcasses Kalosil appointed him Minister for Health.[11] He lost office when the Carcasses government was brought down by a motion of no confidence on 15 May 2014.[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Appeal court restores Kilman as Vanuatu prime minister". Radio New Zealand International. 13 May 2011. Retrieved 9 November 2011. 
  2. ^ William F.S. Miles, Bridging Mental Boundaries in a Postcolonial Microcosm: Identity and Development in Vanuatu, Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1998, ISBN 0-8248-2048-7, p.26
  3. ^ Hill, Edward R. (3 December 1997), "Public Report on Resort Las Vegas and granting of illegal passports", Digested Reports of the Vanuatu Office of the Ombudsman 97 (15), retrieved 2010-11-25 
  4. ^ "Vanuatu court quashes charges against Prime Minister". Radio New Zealand International. 27 September 2004. Retrieved 9 November 2011. 
  5. ^ "Vanuatu PM assaults Chinese ambassador", chinadaily.cn, 6 December 2004.
  6. ^ a b "Vanuatu court rules in favor of Parliament; Vohor appeals", Taiwan News (news.vu), 8 December 2004.[dead link]
  7. ^ "Vanuatu tosses out the Vohor Government". Radio New Zealand International. 10 December 2004. Retrieved 9 November 2011. 
  8. ^ "Vanuatu reshuffles cabinet again", ABC Radio Australia, 30 July 2007.
  9. ^ "Vanuatu UMP leader determined to get back into government". Radio New Zealand International. 2 August 2007. Retrieved 9 November 2011. 
  10. ^ "Vohor takes Vanuatu's top job but instability expected to continue", ABC Radio Australia, 25 April 2011
  11. ^ "Nation's interest first: Carcasses", Vanuatu Daily Post, 26 mars 2013
  12. ^ "Natuman names cabinet line-up", Vanuatu Digest, 16 May 2014
Political offices
Preceded by
Maxime Carlot Korman
Prime Minister of Vanuatu
1995–1996
Succeeded by
Maxime Carlot Korman
Prime Minister of Vanuatu
1996–1998
Succeeded by
Donald Kalpokas
Preceded by
Edward Natapei
Prime Minister of Vanuatu
2004
Succeeded by
Ham Lini
Prime Minister of Vanuatu
Acting

2009
Succeeded by
Edward Natapei
Preceded by
Sato Kilman
Prime Minister of Vanuatu
2011
Succeeded by
Sato Kilman