21 Jul 2004

Australia says it has no role in Vanuatu post-election tussle

1:46 pm on 21 July 2004

The Australian High Commissioner to Vanuatu, Steve Waters, says claims from a coalition leader that he has been offering inducements to MPs to swap sides is patent nonsense.

Two coalitions, claiming the support of equal numbers, say they will be able to form a government when Parliament is scheduled to meet on Monday.

Serge Vohor, the leader of the Union of Moderate Parties faction, says diplomatic missions have been offering some new independent MPs money if they support the other grouping built around the National United Party.

But Mr Waters says he hasn't even met with any of the new MPs since the poll.

"The claims are patent nonsense. Australia is a great supporter of democracy in Vanuatu and while the process of the"

formation of a new government is going ahead, we are certainly not going to interfere in any way.

Australian High Commissioner, Steve Waters.

The New Zealand High Commissioner Bryan Smythe also rejects the claims.

He says he has met some MPs but says he has not, and would not, be involved in offering any inducements.