31 Oct 2011

Vanuatu MP responds to death threat allegation against him

2:53 pm on 31 October 2011

A Vanuatu MP, David Abel, has denied an allegation by the President of the Vanuatu Australia Connections organisation that he made death threats against a young woman who is his secretary.

The organisation's president, Daniel Awiyawi, last week made the allegation in relation to a recent trip to Australia by a Vanuatu delegation visiting sites of the so-called "blackbirding" trade which forced ni-Vanuatu into slavery on Queensland plantations.

Mr Awiyawi said the trip was marred by threats made by Mr Abel, an organiser of the trip, that if the woman didn't marry him he would burn down her church in Vanuatu with her family in it.

Mr Abel categorically denies the claim.

"The lady, she's a mature lady and she has her won rights to make a statement (to police) if she wants to. And I allow any media, any public to go and ask her if that message is true."

David Abel says Mr Awiyawi is making a personal attack against him to discredit him as the founder of Vanuatu Australia Connections.

He says Mr Awiyawi is trying to use the organisation as his own private business rather than a body for the benefit of all South Seas Islanders in Australia.