5 Nov 2003

Former Vanuatu PM dismisses instability claims

12:16 pm on 5 November 2003

A former Vanuatu prime minister, Barak Sope, who will contest a by-election this month to regain his seat in parliament, has dismissed concern expressed by Australia that Melanesian countries are unstable.

Australia has this year led an intervention to improve law and order in Solomon Islands and will expand assistance to Papua New Guinea amid concern over what it describes as failing states in the region.

But Mr Sope says claims of instability may be used as a pretext to interfere in other countries' affairs.

"Vanuatu is stable and has been stable since independence. It is the Australians because of the terrorists coming to Australia but in Vanuatu it's another problem. What sort of instability are we talking about? I don't think we have that. It's something that Australia and probably New Zealand create so that they use to interfere with our affairs."