Vanuatu MPs undergo induction for new term of Parliament

Newly elected Members of the Vanuatu Parliament are currently undergoing a five-day induction programme aimed at equipping MPs to better understand and effectively perform their role as legislators.

Following the March 2020 general election, 50 percent of the members in the 12th Legislature of the Republic of Vanuatu are newly elected MPs.

The induction programme is supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and focuses on key areas such as professional development of MPs and staff, the improvement of Committees’ legislative and oversight work, and support to parliamentary outreach and citizen engagement roles.

Speaking at the opening ceremony, the Deputy Speaker of the Vanuatu Parliament, Natuman Nako Ianatom, acknowledged the contribution of partners from the development sector, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and government ministries.

After welcoming the 51 Members of Parliament in the Parliament Chambers on behalf of the Speaker, Ianatom thanked the Vanuatu Government and UNDP for funding and conducting the training program, which covers all essential topics of the work of parliamentarians, “such as: the Constitution, political parties representation, oversight and scrutiny, humanitarian law, leadership code, civic education programme, Standing Committees in Parliament, financial budget regulation, right to information, members entitlement and parliament services.”

Ulrich Sumptoh has found the induction programme useful for him, especially as a first time MP.

“The induction has updated us new MPs on the work that we are supposed to do throughout this four-year term. It is interesting to me as a new leader because I must know where I am, what direction or course to take for the next few years, through the Government Strategic Plans that these institutions presented to us during these three days.”

“This induction course is a good initiative to inform our new MPs on what is happening in the country, especially with the Government. I have learnt many things in this induction course,” said MP Sumptoh.

With the current COVID-19 restrictions, the UNDP Pacific Office in Fiji Resident Representative, Levan Bouadze, delivered his remarks to the new parliamentarians via teleconference from Fiji and congratulated the MPs for their successful election into Parliament.

In his remarks, Bouadze highlighted several challenges that required concerted efforts on all fronts. These include the need to minimise the deep impacts of COVID-19 to development efforts and the national economy, the important role of CSOs, the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the active support for the participation of women in politics.

“Parliament is the at the core of representative democracy, and as such is central to the realization of SDGs. In line with Goal 16, strong, transparent, accountable and inclusive institutions are key for the achievement of all 17 Goals,” said Bouadze.

He emphasized that attaining the global agenda requires local action in every single country and jurisdiction – and Parliament is a powerful agent of change.

“In Vanuatu there are several women occupying key positions in government, CSOs and the private sector. These are commendable achievements. I challenge you to look for ways to create the same opportunities and environment for women’s participation in politics.”

He added, “Help cultivate that dream in aspiring Vanuatu women politicians now, both young and old. Who knows, your wife, or daughter or granddaughter may even be the first female Prime Minister of Vanuatu.”

The induction for Vanuatu Members of Parliament is supported by two of the UNDP Pacific Office’s parliamentary development projects namely, the Pacific Parliamentary Effectiveness Initiative (PPEI-II) funded by the Government of New Zealand and the Strengthening Legislatures in Pacific Island Countries Legislatures (SLIP) funded by the Government of Japan.

The induction programme comes to an end on Tuesday 9 June.


Photo supplied UNDP/Maurizio Cacucci