14 Sep 2004

Vanuatu government sacks Police Commissioner after he issues arrest orders against PM

6:31 am on 14 September 2004

The Vanuatu Government has suspended the police commissioner after he issued orders to arrest the Prime Minister.

A spokesman for the Prime Minister told Vanuatu's Daily Post that the Government had lost confidence in Robert Di Niro.

The spokesman, Kalvao Moli, said it was feared some officers of the paramilitary Vanuatu Mobile Force may have been planning to arrest the Prime Minister, Serge Vohor, over contempt charges.

He returned yesterday to the capital, Port Vila, from a trip to China.

Lawyers for Mr Vohor negotiated for the arrest orders to

be replaced by a summons requiring him to appear in court this Friday.

He has been charged with contempt of court following comments he made on the floor of parliament concerning a recent ruling of the country's chief justice.

The Australian newspaper quotes Mr Moli as saying the Government was also terminating the services of Liam Shaw, an Australian-funded legal adviser to the Public Prosecutor.

He said Australia gave Vanuatu more than 15 million US dollars in aid, but over half of the money went to pay special advisors.

The Australian High Commissioner to Vanuatu, Stephen Waters, said last night that he had not been informed of any decision altering Mr Shaw's status.

Two Australian Federal Police liaison officers have already been ordered to leave the country by tomorrow.