24 Aug 2004

Free speech stifled says Vanuatu opposition leader

8:56 pm on 24 August 2004

The Vanuatu opposition leader says the government of Serge Vohor is stifling free speech.

Sato Kilman says Radio Vanuatu was stopped from running comments from him ahead of a likely vote of no confidence in the government this Thursday.

Last Thursday, the Supreme Court said the vote would have go ahead within seven days.

Mr Kilman says he had challenged claims by the government that they have the backing of 35 MPs.

He says this is not the case because the opposition can count on at least 26 votes in the 52-seat parliament.

And he has also made allegations that the government has threatened violence against some MPs thinking of switching their allegiance.

Mr Kilman says the government is censoring the news.

"I had the Radio Vanuatu man here with me, and the minute he left my office he was picked by the press officer of the Prime Minister's Office and told not to give out the news I gave him."