8 Sep 2004

Transparency concerned over new Vanuatu government's actions

1:30 pm on 8 September 2004

The Vanuatu chapter of Transparency International is expressing strong concern over the activities of the country's new government.

The administration has assumed direct control of state broadcasting, the prime minister Serge Vohor has been strongly critical - in parliament - of the Chief Justice, and two Australian police liaison personnel have been ordered out of the country.

In addition, it says foreign advisors and expatriates working in the public service, whose jobs can be done by ni-Vanuatu, should leave.

Transparency's spokesperson, Marie-Noelle Ferrieux-Patterson, says with state broadcasting controlled by the Prime Minister's Office, the ability of people to speak is limited.

She says it seems as though the country is going backwards.

"Remember that we had a Comprehensive Reform Programme that wanted to open to transparency, accountability, a free media, and the feeling at the moment is that we are going backwards. You know, once you start touching freedom of expression and controlling the media, that is certainly a concern."

Marie-Noelle Ferrieux-Patterson