Parliament vote ousts Vanuatu PM
Vanuatu's prime minister Edward Natapei has been ousted from power by his deputy in a no-confidence vote in the nation's Parliament, forcing him to return home from climate change talks in Cancun after he lost his mandate.
Mr Natapei was replaced by deputy premier Sato Kilman, a former foreign minister, officials said.
It was the seventh no-confidence motion Mr Natapei had faced in less than two years - part of the volatile politics of the South Pacific nation.
New Zealand high commissioner in the capital, Port Vila, Jeff Langley said one group within the ruling coalition had joined the opposition to unseat Mr Natapei.
"The (defector) group has picked up more Cabinet posts (in the new government) and has greater influence than previously," he said. "It's the way Vanuatu politics works."
Details of the vote have yet to be released after media were barred from the country's Parliament while it voted on the no-confidence motion.
Political reporters said security officers turned them away from the grounds, and that they acted on instructions from Speaker George Wells.
Mr Langley said it was the first time the public and media had been denied access to the country's Parliament since it gained independence from colonial powers Britain and France in 1980.
Shortly before he lost his position, former premier Mr Natapei had tried to suspend five politicians trying to promote a no-confidence motion against him.
Mr Natapei has been in office since the 2008 election, though he was briefly unseated last year when the Speaker of Parliament ruled his seat vacant for failing to register his absence. The country's Supreme Court overruled the speaker's decision.