17 May 2004

Vanuatu's Prime Minister justifies decision to dissolve parliament

7:34 am on 17 May 2004

The Prime Minister of Vanuatu has gone on television to explain the reasons why parliament has been dissolved.

The Prime Minister, Edward Natapei, is reported to have used the address to launch a stinging attack on those who had sought to undermine him.

Our correspondent in Vanuatu, Kalvao Moli, says Mr Natapei explained that the Opposition had moved four motions of no-confidence against him, and that a fifth would have gone too far.

"He was pressured to off-load two of his portfolios to the opposition and he refused. On the basis of that, he felt that the fifth motion of no confidence that was lodged was not in the interest of the stability of the country, so that he felt it was in the interst of the nation, to have the nation decide."

Officials are preparing for a general election and our correspondent says the date has been put down as July the sixth.

An opposition leader, Barak Sope, says an appeal against a Supreme Court ruling, which said the acting president was justified in dissolving parliament, is set to be heard early next month.