Vanuatu's Speaker makes peace with ousted politician

The Speaker of Vanuatu's parliament, Esmon Sae, has apologised in the custom way to the former Prime Minister and current president of the Vanuaaku Pati, Joe Natuman, for upholding the law and removing him from parliament.

This followed Natuman's conviction for perverting the course of justice, for which he was given a two-year suspended sentence.

The custom reconciliation ceremony, involving an exchange of mats and drinking kava together, was witnessed by Natuman's successor as Deputy Prime Minister Bob Loughman as well as other senior party leaders.

The Daily Post newspaper reported Mr Sae saying it was not an easy decision for him to make to maintain the solidarity of the government while at the same time making sure that he followed the law in his position as speaker.

The ceremony reflects Vanuatu's unique way of turning to custom to successfully resolve a highly sensitive political issue.