4 Dec 2006

Vanuatu mayor says suspension of his council unfair and unjustified

9:23 pm on 4 December 2006

The suspended mayor of Luganville in Vanuatu has defended his council against allegations it has misappropriated an estimated 400-thousand US dollars.

The internal affairs minister George Wells has suspended the entire Luganville Municipal Council for the second time this year, saying it cannot control its spending.

The first suspension was overturned in court, but Mr Wells says the latest suspension comes despite the Council having been given time to address financial difficulties that surfaced in an audit last year.

The suspended Councillors have been barred from entering the Council building by paramilitary police.

But the suspended mayor James Ulas says Mr Wells, as a former Luganville councillor, should know that the current council has inherited the financial problems from previous ones...

"Due to past councils there are lots of outstandings (funds) that were made. That's why the outstandings have became a huge amount. That's why, I think probably, the Minister took the decision to suspend the council."

Suspended Luganville mayor James Ulas