30 Nov 2004

Vanuatu Deputy PM disputes Australian criticism in aid warning

12:45 pm on 30 November 2004

Vanuatu's deputy Prime Minister Ham Lini says he disputes Australia's concerns that the country is failing to crack down on corruption and lawlessness.

Australian diplomats visiting Port Vila last week warned that Canberra is prepared to cut its 24 million US dollar aid package unless Vanuatu takes action to improve good governance and transparency.

Mr Lini says the warning will be discussed in parliament this week.

He says the government will look very seriously into how to act on the recommendations of the Australian diplomats.

But Mr Lini says Vanuatu does not necessarily share all of Australia's views.

"Maybe we can accept some of the reasons they have given, but not all because we also have our views on how to deal with the situations we are faced, with some of these people around. Some of these people are really interfering in our internal affairs."

Meanwhile, Taiwan has summoned Australia's trade representative over what it alleges is an attempt by Australia to sabotage newly formed diplomatic ties between it and Vanuatu

Taiwan's Foreign minister, Chen Tang-sun has issued a statement urging Australia not to be influenced by China to interfere in the internal affairs of Vanuatu by trying to block Taiwan-Vanuatu ties by cutting aid to Vanuatu

Mr Chen said that since Taiwan and Vanuatu set up ties on November 3, China had been pressuring Vanuatu to rescind its decision to recognise Taiwan.

He accused China of trying to create conflicts within Vanuatu's Cabinet and cause them to pass a vote of no confidence in the Prime Minister Serge Vohor

Vanuatu opened diplomatic ties with China in 1982.

In 1992, it signed a communique with Taiwan on mutual recognition but stopped short of launching full diplomatic ties.