17 Dec 2004

Vanuatu dismisses move to axe civil servants

9:04 am on 17 December 2004

The new government in Vanuatu has reversed a decision by the ousted Vohor administration to dump directors-general from government departments.

Mr Vohor, who was dumped a week ago in a vote of no confidence, wanted to get rid of the department heads because he said they had frustrated his Ministers' attempts to implement their programmes.

Mr Vohor also complained about the cost, but that came soon after he had decided to increase the size of his Cabinet by a third.

The non-governmental organisation, Transparency International, said that doing away with the directors-general would be catastrophic for Vanuatu.

The new administration led by Ham Lini now agrees and has withdrawn the plan.

The move came before a surprise visit by Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer today.

Mr Downer is expected to announce additional backing for the Comprehensive Reform Programme.