7 Mar 2005

Vanuatu government seeks apology over newspaper story

12:57 pm on 7 March 2005

The Vanuatu government has asked for an apology from a local newspaper after it reported that a coalition partner had given the prime minister, Ham Lini, until the end of last week to resign.

The paper, Ni-Vanuatu, said the ultimatum was issued by the People's Progressive Party whose leader is the deputy prime minister, Sato Kilman.

It said its story is based on information given to it by a member of parliament who claimed a letter to that effect was sent to the prime minister.

But Mr Kilman says as far as he knows there was no such letter.

The president of the ruling Vanuaaku Party and former prime minister, Edward Natapei, says he was shocked to read about the resignation demand.

The government has demanded an apology and has threatened the paper with legal action.

The paper's owner has so far ruled out an apology, saying its information came from an MP.