The Leaderboard: Sato Kilman

Who is he?

Sato Kilman is the current Prime Minister of Vanuatu and leader of the People’s Progress Party. Before entering politics in 1995, Kilman served as a police commissioner. He formed the People’s Progress party in 2001 in response to failures he saw in Vanuatu’s political leadership, such as weak decision making and corruption.

Kilman’s political platform tends to focus on the economy through improving domestic and international trade through reforms in the agricultural, fishery, and tourism sectors, while also acknowledging the importance of traditional land ownership.

Vanuatu's Sato Kilman (center) during a Leaders Retreat in Perth, Australia, in October 2011. Source: Commonwealth Secretariat’s flickr photostream, used under a creative commons license.

Why is he in the media?

Sato Kilman managed to clinch the job of Prime Minister November 19, 2012 in a split parliament vote of 29-23. Although Kilman’s People’s Progressive Party only won 6 seats, he has again managed to pull together a loose multiparty alliance.

Leading up to the elections, Kilman was in the media because of the controversy surrounding the super yacht, the Phocea, whose passengers, which included ministers from his cabinet, allegedly were caught smuggling drugs and engaging in passport fraud.

What can we expect from him?

Considering the tenuous nature of the alliance that voted Sato Kilman into power, it is likely that his key rivals, including Ralf Reganvanu and Edward Natapei, will move against the Kilman coalition to ensure that it does not last long into 2013.

Moreover, a large group of petitioners have challenged the result of the October 30 election, claiming irregularities. In light of this we can expect that there will be little permanence in the Vanuatu government for the foreseeable future.

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