13 Oct 2015

Vanuatu ombudsman says suspension 'illegal'

10:41 am on 13 October 2015

Vanuatu's ombudsman has been suspended by the government, in a move he says is illegal and invalid.

Marcellino Pipite

Marcellino Pipite Photo: RNZI/Hilaire Bule

Kalkot Mataskelekele says he received a suspension letter from the speaker of Parliament, Marcelino Pipite, who over the weekend was the acting President of Vanuatu.

Mr Pipite has appointed Wilson Aumah as the acting ombudsman, but Mr Mataskelekele says the suspension and appointment is illegal.

He says that under the Ombudsman Act he can only be suspended if he's found guilty of corrupt practices or criminal charges, or if he resigns.

"For the moment I have not resigned, so this brings into question the validity of the alleged act of suspension by the acting president made over the weekend. I am still the ombudsman."

Mr Mataskelele says the president can only appoint a new ombudsman after consultation with the prime minister, the opposition leader, and other leaders.

He says he doubts Mr Pipite could have done this in one day.