23 Aug 2006

Vanautu chiefs to meet leaders in Luganville to ease tensions

2:02 pm on 23 August 2006

The President of Vanuatu's Malvatumari, or Council of Chiefs, Paul Tahi, is to travel to Santo tomorrow to try and bring chiefs from neighbouring provinces together to solve growing tension there.

Santo chiefs have ordered members of the Ulas family out of the province after increasing concern about their often violent behaviour has angered many residents in Luganville.

The Ulas family is originally from Paama in Malampa province and chiefs from there are now at loggerheads with their counterparts on Santo.

The secretary general of the Malvatumari, Selwyn Garo, says the Government can talk about the family's constitutional rights being threatened by the demand they leave, but the Council of Chiefs is more concerned with ensuring that the action taken is consistent with custom.

"Because we feel that if it is handled according to custom correctly then what is becoming a very tense situation in Santo would be handled in a way that peace would come again to Luganville, because this issue is now affecting all of Luganville town."