26 Aug 2011

Vanuatu opposition pulls out of Pacific Games opening

3:20 pm on 26 August 2011

The Vanuatu opposition won't attend the opening of the Pacific Games in New Caledonia tomorrow, despite an invitation from prime minister, Sato Kilman.

Mr Kilman has offered 16 seats to the opposition in a chartered Air Vanuatu aircraft going to New Caledonia tonight.

But the deputy leader of the opposition, Edward Natapei, says the country is suffering economically and is yet to find all the money to cover the athletes' expenses.

He also raises concerns about the lack of money to pay some teachers, the failure to cover school fees for children on cyclone-hit Tafea and allowances for students studying overseas

Mr Natapei says the leaders have to put the interests of the people first.

"We feel that it is important that we deal with the economic situation before we start travelling all over the world. Over the last six to eight months the Government hasn't come up with any projects at all to assist the nation. To make things worse the price of copra has just dropped drastically and people in the islands are facing difficulties."

Edward Natapei, deputy leader of the Vanuatu opposition.