22 Nov 2011

Anti-WTO campaigners in Vanuatu defiant despite protest ban

1:55 pm on 22 November 2011

Campaigners against Vanuatu joining the World Trade Organisation say they will keep pressing their anti-WTO message in the community despite not being allowed to stage protests at the weekend.

Parliament is due to debate ratifying Vanuatu's WTO membership tomorrow.

Authorities refused permission for the protests, planned by the Vanuatu Christian Council, the Malfatumauri National Council of Chiefs and civil society groups.

One of the organisers, Pastor Alan Nafuki, says the protestors have been denied a democratic right but he says they'll use other means to push their message that joining the WTO won't bring any good to the country.

"I call it devil is coming. This country has been declared (for) the second time, the happiest place on earth and if we are not careful about this then this could turn into something else. We've struggled to achieve the independence and integrity of this nation. We want to keep it that way."

Mr Nafuki says he will travel to Geneva next month to represent the views of Vanuatu's chiefs, churches and civil society groups.