8 Sep 2006

Vanuatu lands minister should be sacked over MOU signing, says opposition leader

1:29 pm on 8 September 2006

Vanuatu's opposition leader, Serge Vohor, says the lands minister should be sacked for signing an MOU with an American Investor over a potential project in Santo.

The minister, Maxime Carlot Korman, has signed a deal with a Texas-based investor, Ralph Fair of Pacific Vanguard Corporation, who wants to take freehold land in Big Bay to establish a free-trade zone.

Mr Vohor says Mr Korman has been acting unilaterally and without consent of the customary landowners or provincial government.

"I think the project itself is a good idea but the way that the Minister of Lands is doing things, I don't think that it will be supported by the custom owners in Big Bay Area because he should have the courtesy to inform the custom landowners before he signed the MOU. This is a fraud and I'm sure there was a corruption."

Serge Vohor also says the two men who claimed to sign the MOU on behalf of landowners, Peter Japeth and Stanislas Etul, are not from Santo and had no right to sign.

One of the two men was reportedly assaulted by angry landowners from Big Bay this week.