8 Mar 2007

Vanuatu National Cultural Director dismisses criticism over black magic promotion

2:44 pm on 8 March 2007

Vanuatu's National Cultural Council has dismissed criticism from a Member of Parliament that it promotes the use of black magic.

The criticism from Efate MP Joshua Kalsakau, follows last weekend's deadly clashes on the edge of Port Vila which were sparked by accusations that a sorcerer had used witchcraft to kill a rival.

The clashes between people of Tanna and Ambrym islands at the Blacksands squatter settlement near the capital left three men dead, and several people seriously injured.

A two-week state of emergency has been declared with some restrictions on movement between Efate and other islands.

The director of the Council, Ralph Regenvanu, denies Mr Kalsakau's accusation that the Vanuatu Cultural Centre is responsible for the ongoing belief in black magic.

"The preamble of the constitution of Vanuatu says nation is founded on traditional Melanesian values, faith in God and Christian principles. So the work of the Cultural Centre to promote traditional Melanesian values is completely in line with what the constitution says and if the MP is against this, then he should resign as a national leader because he's obviously against the constitution."