25 Mar 2011

Vanuatu government upset over TI criticism of inaction

11:20 am on 25 March 2011

The office of the Vanuatu prime minister has attacked Transparency International's president, Marie Noelle Ferrieux Patterson, for telling media that if political corruption isn't dealt with the country could face a coup.

Mrs Ferrieux Patterson was commenting after a cabinet minister allegedly led the assault on a newspaper publisher but no investigation was ordered by police.

She also referred to the scathing criticism of the police in a coroner's report last year, in which the government was advised to rein in a body that saw itself as being above the law.

The director general of the prime minister's office, Simeon Athy, says these comments are irresponsible and could undermine investment in the country.

He defended the police's actions and says Mrs Ferrieux Patterson may be formally investigated by the state.

Mrs Ferrieux Patterson says the comments are not irresponsible but reflect what the ordinary people of Vanuatu tell Transparency International.

She also says it's important these issues are now being aired publicly.