2 Oct 2002

Vanuatu's coalition partner wants Australian high commissioner removed

7:26 pm on 2 October 2002

The spokesperson for Vanuatu's deputy prime minister, Serge Vohor, says Australia has been spying on the country for years and the high commissioner needs to be removed.

Wendy Himford was speaking after Mr Vohor alleged that Australian federal police were tapping phones and attempting to destabilise the government.

She says they believe that some foreigners and foreign countries were behind an attempt to create civil war in the country with a split in the police force and the controversy over the appointment of a new police commissioner.

8 senior police are currently facing mutiny and inciting mutiny charges after the arrest of 15 top public officials over the appointment .

Ms Himford says Australia is interfering in the affairs of Vanuatu and is involved from the judiciary to the police.

"First, we should be able to convince the Australian government to respect use as a sovereign country and to have the current Australian High Commissioner transferred to another diplomatic mission, and to have a new commissioner, and second to have a dialogue with the Australian government itself because we don't have any dialogue"

Ms Himford says the Australian high commissioner speaks only to the Vanuaaku party, not Mr Vohor's Union of Moderate parties which is in the coalition government.