World

Vanuatu in political chaos after lawmakers pardon themselves from corruption verdicts

FILE - In this March 16, 2015 file photo, Vanuatu President Baldwin Lonsdale speaks during an interview in his hotel room in Sendai, Miyagi prefecture, northeastern Japan while attending a U.N. conference on disaster risk reduction. The South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu found itself in political chaos Tuesday, Oct. 13 following an extraordinary few days in which 14 lawmakers were found guilty of corruption but were then pardoned by one of their own while the president was abroad. The events have created a constitutional crisis for Lonsdale, who promised he would find a legal avenue to "clean up the mess." (AP Photo/Koji Ueda, File)

FILE - In this March 16, 2015 file photo, Vanuatu President Baldwin Lonsdale speaks during an interview in his hotel room in Sendai, Miyagi prefecture, northeastern Japan while attending a U.N. conference on disaster risk reduction. The South Pacific island nation of Vanuatu found itself in political chaos Tuesday, Oct. 13 following an extraordinary few days in which 14 lawmakers were found guilty of corruption but were then pardoned by one of their own while the president was abroad. The events have created a constitutional crisis for Lonsdale, who promised he would find a legal avenue to "clean up the mess." (AP Photo/Koji Ueda, File)  (The Associated Press)

The island nation of Vanuatu is in political chaos following an extraordinary few days in which 14 lawmakers were found guilty of corruption but were then pardoned by one of their own while the president was abroad.

The events this week created have a constitutional crisis for President Baldwin Lonsdale, who promised he would find a legal avenue to "clean up the mess," according to the Vanuatu Daily Post.

On Friday, Parliament speaker Marcellino Pipite and 13 others were found guilty of bribery by the Supreme Court. A judge said many had accepted bribes of 1 million vatu ($9,000) to help overthrow the previous government.

But the next day, Pipite signed a pardon for himself and the others. Because the president was away, Pipite was the acting head of state.