10 Feb 2005

Vanuatu police boss to come from country funding post

2:45 pm on 10 February 2005

The job of Police Commissioner in Vanuatu is to go to a person from whichever country is chosen to fund the hotly debated position.

The Vanuatu Government has agreed that the job should be filled by a non-citizen because its own police force does not have the necessary political independence.

Joe Carlo, the political adviser to Home Affairs Minister George Wells, says the step is regretted but necessary for the future of the country and its economic wellbeing.

"It is not going to be a permanent post. It is going to be on a short-term basis -- a contract -- and the decision is that the position of counterpart working with him, the post will be localised as soon as the contract expires. You're looking at a period of a maximum of two years."

Joe Carlo says there is a lot of respect for Vanuatu's 700-strong police force, but its members have been involved in politics and there is disgruntlement.

He says the situation has not been helped by a lack of recruitment over several years.

The job's been empty since September when the then commissioner was fired after a failed bid to arrest the Prime Minister. Earlier, 27 senior police faced mutiny charges.