26 Nov 2003

Former NUP head says party split over joining Vanuatu government

11:36 am on 26 November 2003

The former president of Vanuatu's National United Party says the party is split over a decision to join the ruling coalition.

Dinh Van Than has criticised the new party president, Ham Lini, for agreeing to join the Vanua'aku Pati in a new coalition without first getting a plan approved by the party.

Mr Than says NUP was not ready to enter any government before 2006.

The government has responded by saying that Mr Than has no power to speak about NUP because he is no longer its leader.

Meanwhile, Mr Than says NUP will back Barak Sope in this week's by-election to regain the seat declared vacant after he was convicted on fraud charges.

Mr Sope has been pardoned and is eligible to stand.