One of the founders and current honorary president of National United Party (NUP), Dinh Van Than, is calling on NUP president Bruno Leingkon to resign as the president of the political party after his recent conviction by the Supreme Court.

He said NUP cannot be guided by a leader who pleaded guilty to endangering the safety of a passenger in an aircraft.

It is the first time in NUP’s history for two of its leaders to be convicted by a court over criminal charges in less than a month.

Just last week, the Supreme Court found NUP MP for Malekula constituency, Sanick Assang, guilty of domestic violence and Leadership Code breach by failing to observe and complying with the law.

In her judgement, Justice Viran Molisa Trief emphasized that the sentence is imposed to deter the offending by sending the message to the community that the law prohibits domestic violence and leaders have a duty to comply with and observe the law.

It is also imposed to mark the gravity of the offences and to hold Mr Assang accountable for his criminal conduct.

“Mr Assang’s fall from grace is in itself punishment,” the Supreme Court judge said.

“However, I reiterate that as a leader, he has a responsibility to leave by example to solve the disputes through a dialogue, not a violence. I have the power to suspend the sentence in whole and in part. The factor which favor suspension of the sentence include the following: the prompt guilty plea, the lack of previous convictions, Mr Assang’s engagement in custom reconciliation ceremony although not with the complainant herself, his responsibility to the public office and to his children.

“I assess also that Mr Asang has prospects for rehabilitation. The factors which favor not to suspend the sentence include the following: the offending was repeated, it was premeditated, occurred in front of his children and involved the use of items as weapons. On the balance, weighing those factors, I consider the end sentences should be suspended.

“The period of suspension will be 2 years. Mr Asang is warned that he must remain offence-free for the next 2 years or he will need to serve his sentences of imprisonment in addition to other penalty that maybe imposed on him for the further offending. In addition, Mr Asang is ordered to complete 50 hours of community work.”

Previously, Leingkon was ordered to pay Vt300,000 fine and 120 hours of Community work after he pleaded guilty to three charges on actions that endangered the safety of a passenger in an aircraft, contrary to section 18 (1) of the Aviation Security Act of 2007; intoxicated persons on aircraft, contrary to section 21 (1) of Aviation Security Act of 2007 and failure to comply with and observing the law, contrary to section 13 (1) (a) of the Leadership Code Act [CAP 240] on April 6, 2021.

Mr Dinh said it is sad to see leaders of one of the respected political parties in Vanuatu ending up in court on criminal charges. He said this does not reflect late Father Walter Lini’s words: “Respect is honorable.”

Mr Dinh and late Lini started NUP in 1991.

Meanwhile in response to Mr Dinh’s call, NUP Secretary General, Reginald Garoleo, said Leingkon was elected as the party’s president by the congress so only the congress will decide on whether or not Leingkon should remain as president of NUP.