1 Feb 2010

Vanuatu Cabinet Minister says Mathew and Hunters proposal was personal, not government policy

4:59 pm on 1 February 2010

Vanuatu's Internal Affairs Minister has denied allegations by the opposition that he has compromised Vanuatu's stance over the Mathew and Hunters islands, which are also being claimed by France.

In a recent visit to New Caledonia, the Minister, Moana Carcasses, proposed that the two uninhabited islands could become a condominium shared by Vanuatu and France.

However Vanuatu's opposition leader, Ham Lini, has called for the minister's resignation, saying Mr Carcasses undermined the country's economic zone policy and sovereignty by veering from the official position on the disputed islands.

But the Minister says his comments were made strictly in a private capacity.

"My comment on that, there was nothing signed on anything done by me about this issue because it's not my prerogative. This is not what you'd call an official view. Nothing to do with the government capacity. I went to New Caledonia for three things related to my ministry. This is my personal opinion."

Moana Carcasses