25 Jan 2007

A former Vanuatu prime minister attacks New Zealand and Australia over its aid

7:27 pm on 25 January 2007

A former Vanuatu prime minister has attacked New Zealand and Australia, claiming both had refused for 26 years to fund an agricultural college for the country.

Mr Sope claims in the Daily Post newspaper that New Zealand and Australia wanted to force Vanuatu to import agricultural produce from them.

The accusation has come on the eve of the opening of the China funded Vanuatu Agricultural College tomorrow in Luganville.

Mr Sope says Vanuatu had approached Britain, France, Australia and New Zealand on the eve of independence in 1979, because it was seen that the surest way to achieve economic independence would be through agricultural trade.

Mr Sope says that at that time, the ministry of agriculture, of which he was first secretary had allocated 600 hectares of land for the college, but nothing was done.

He says it is important that Vanuatu looks to China for help in times of urgent need.

Mr Sope says the government should be wary about neighbouring governments who base their foreign policies on being "policeman, judge, jury and executioner in the Pacific's independent states.