28 Apr 2005

Vanuatu government accused of sacking town council to keep its supporter on as mayor

1:59 pm on 28 April 2005

A lawyer in Vanuatu claims the government may have abused its powers in suspending the entire local council in the second city, Luganville.

Ronald Warsal is defending the seven town council members in the Supreme Court, after they were sacked last month, to face charges of maladministration.

Mr Warsal says the government had already been overseeing a long-standing investigation into the council.

He suggests it's suspicious that they suddenly acted last month - a day before the election of the mayor.

"It's a bit suspicious when you have the problem there lying for nearly a year, and then the minister after seven months hasn't done nothing. One day before the election and then he suspends the council. There's a likelihood the court has to look at it, I mean, there might be some abuse of powers."

The ministry of home affairs is expected to give its side of the story when the Supreme Court convenes again next week.