16 Sep 2004

Vanuatu's top police officer suspended again

9:33 am on 16 September 2004

The Vanuatu Government has again suspended the Police commissioner Robert di Niro Obed, pending an investigation into his attempt to arrest the Prime Minister, Serge Vohor, on Sunday.

Mr di Niro Obed was suspended on Monday but reinstated several hours later.

The second suspension, on Wednesday afternoon, saw Major Arthur Caulton made acting Commissioner.

On Sunday Commissioner di Niro Obed had tried to arrest Mr Vohor for contempt following his criticism in Parliament of the Chief Justice.

Lawyers for Mr Vohor have negotiated for the arrest orders to be replaced by a summons and the Prime Minister will now appear in the Supreme Court this Friday to explain why he shouldn't be found in contempt.

A spokesman for Mr Vohor says the court hearing will be a test for democracy in Vanuatu, because the primacy of Parliament is threatened by the charge.

The spokesman also says the suspension process for the police commissioner will be conducted in a transparent way by the Police Services Commission.