Over the weekend, my daughter and I were looking at the photos I’ve collected in my screen saver slide show. They’re my personal favourites from a couple of decades of shooting.
The image above took a bit of explaining. This is what I told her:
The man on the right, leading the way is President Baldwin Lonsdale, a personal hero of mine. The man in brown at the far left is Marcellino Pipite. He is not a personal hero of mine.
The paper in Marcellino’s hand is an instrument of pardon that he had issued for himself and more than a dozen other cronies in a dangerous eleventh hour gambit to avoid imprisonment for bribery.
When the President of Vanuatu is overseas or otherwise unable to perform his duties, the Constitution dictates that his powers pass to the Speaker of Parliament. In the weekend following their conviction, a group of MPs met in a local resort and concocted a plan to hurriedly issue pardons for themselves.
On the face of it, the plan was flawless*. The President’s power to issue pardons in unconditional. So they forced the acting Attorney General to draft the instruments and gazette them, and then summoned the media to an impromptu press conference in the Speaker’s meeting room.
[* NARRATOR: It was not flawless.]