31 Jan 2013

Vanuatu government says the Phocea no longer its responsibility

6:32 pm on 31 January 2013

Vanuatu's government says the super yacht Phocea has become a distraction which it would prefer to go away.

The yacht, reportedly owned by Vanuatu diplomatic representative Pascal Ahn Quan Saken, has been detained in Port Vila harbour since July when it was seized by officials, originally on suspicion of drugs and guns smuggling.

Links between the yacht, Mr Saken and government ministers have dogged the Prime Minister Sato Kilman since he was re-elected late last year.

While the Ports Authority has kept the yacht detained because of false documentations, the Prime Minister's Political Adviser, Richard Kaltongga, says the government has repeatedly given clearance for it to leave.

"Now the vessel cannot leave because it doesn't have a valid registration anywhere. But as far as the government is concerned it is no longer a responsibility of this government... which is why we wanted the yacht to leave because we just want to get away from this situation. It is distracting us from dealing with priority areas, we have much more important things to worry about."

Richard Kaltongga