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Vanuatu president dissolves parliament to avoid trying to oust leader

Vanuatu’s Prime Minister Bob Loughman addresses the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly via pre-recorded video remotely, in New York, U.S., September 25, 2021. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz/Pool/ File Photo

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SYDNEY, Aug 18 (Reuters) – Vanuatu’s president dissolved the Pacific island nation’s parliament on Thursday, state broadcaster VBTC reported, after some politicians tried to oust the prime minister.

Prime Minister Bob Loughman was due to face a no-confidence motion in the next session of Parliament after a group of lawmakers from his party said he had sided with the opposition in an attempt to vote him down. remove.

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

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Vanuatu was not expected 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 caused discontent in recent months.

Opposition leader Ralph Regenavu told Reuters the dissolution would be challenged in court and a majority of MPs backed the bid to impeach Loughman.

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

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

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

Loughman’s office could not be immediately reached by Reuters.

The Pacific has become the center of heightened geopolitical competition between China and the United States and its allies this year, as China seeks to increase its security and commercial presence.

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Reporting by Kirsty Needham; Editing by Robert Birsel

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