Page last updated at 13:35 GMT, Friday, 27 November 2009

Vanuatu PM loses parliamentary seat over blunder

Edward Natapei. File photo
Mr Natapei is flying back home from the Commonwealth summit

The prime minister of Vanuatu has been stripped of his position and parliamentary seat because of a basic paperwork error.

Edward Natapei, who has been attending a Commonwealth summit, missed three consecutive sittings without submitting a written explanation for his absence.

Under Vanuatu's law, this means he must forfeit his seat.

The Pacific island-nation will now be ruled by a caretaker government until MPs elect a new prime minister.

The vote is expected next week, and there will also be a by-election for Mr Natapei's seat.

To have retained his seat, Mr Natapei - who is now flying back from the Commonwealth summit in Trinidad and Tobago - needed simply to have notified the parliamentary Speaker.

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