11 May 2012

Vanuatu opposition criticises expulsion of Australian police

1:31 pm on 11 May 2012

The Vanuatu opposition has condemned the government's decision to expel all Australian Federal Police.

On Wednesday, the government gave the Australian officers and their families 24 hours to leave over what it saw as a breach of protocol when the prime minister Sato Kilman passed through Sydney Airport last month.

Mr Kilman's private secretary Clarence Marae was arrested on outstanding fraud charges at the airport.

But the opposition leader, Serge Vohor, says it is wrong for the government to retaliate because Australia is an important development partner for Vanuatu.

Mr Vohor says it is an issue for the prime minister's office and not the country.

In 2003, Mr Vohor, when he was the prime minister, expelled the AFP from Vanuatu over allegations of spying.

Meanwhile, an Australian expatriate has written to the Daily Post saying the government was right to expel the police.

Morgan Bragg accuses the AFP of a lack of respect for Vanuatu's sovereignty and says their presence won't promote economic wealth in Vanuatu because Australian investors may think twice before spending their money there.