4 Dec 2006

Local body politicians in Vanuatu barred from entering council by police

2:57 pm on 4 December 2006

The suspended Lugainville Municipal Council in Vanuatu has been barred from entering the Council building by paramilitary police.

The Internal Affairs minister George Wells has suspended the entire Council for the second time this year over allegations the Councillors misappropriated funds.

The first suspension was overturned in court, but Mr Wells says the latest suspension comes because despite giving the Council time to address financial difficulties that surfaced in a 2005 audit, it was going from bad to worse.

The Cheif Administative Officer of the suspended council, Jessie Dick, says the money problems were not the council's fault

"The problem was inherited from four or five past councils. And now it's this current council that is being punished by the minister for the past financial crisis of the council. So there are police officers all over the building preventing the former councillors frmo entering the premises."

Jessie Dick says the councillors expect to challenge the Minister's decision in court.