Vanuatu’s president dissolves parliament to avoid bid to oust leader

Vanuatu’s president dissolved the Pacific island nation’s parliament on Thursday, state broadcaster VBTC reported, following an attempt by some politicians to oust the prime minister.

Premier Bob Loughman was expected to face a motion of no confidence at the next sitting of Parliament after a group of lawmakers in his party said they had sided with the opposition in a bid to oust him.

Vanuatu President Nikenike Vurobaravu on Thursday signed a notice to dissolve parliament to take effect the same day, a copy of the notice showed.

Vanuatu was not due to go to the polls until 2024.

A failed attempt by Loughman to change the constitution to extend election cycles from four to five years, among other changes, had sparked discontent in recent months.

Opposition Leader Ralph Regenavu told Reuters the dissolution would be challenged in court and that most members of parliament supported the bid to remove Loughman.

Regenavu said he had the support of 29 out of 51 lawmakers.

Loughman and his supporters had boycotted parliament on Tuesday to avoid a vote of no confidence, he said.

Loughman told VBTC that he was caretaker prime minister and welcomed the president’s decision.

Reuters could not immediately reach Loughman’s office.

The Pacific has become a focus of intensifying geopolitical competition between China and the United States and its allies this year, with China seeking to increase its security and commercial presence.

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