13 Apr 2012

Vanuatu court dismisses review of local government suspensions

10:02 am on 13 April 2012

The Vanuatu supreme court has dismissed applications for a judicial review over the suspension of three local governments.

The Internal Affairs Minister Georges Wells suspended the local governments of Torba, Sanma, Penama, and Malampa last month

The Daily Post reports lawyers representing Sanma, Penama, and Malampa argued before Justice Robert Spears that Mr Wells used the suspension of the provinces as a back door to address issues at the Northern Island Stevedoring Company Limited.

One of the lawyers, Nigel Morrison, argued Mr Wells had ulterior motives when he suspended the Provinces and that the motive came to light when only a week later the Commissioners of the Province were made NISCOL Shareholders.

But the Solicitor General Virana Trief, who represented the Attorney General and Minister Wells, said the Internal Affairs Minister exercised his powers under the Decentralisation Act.

Justice Spears agreed that Minister Wells acted appropriately in safeguarding the interest of the four Provinces by suspending the local government councils last month and dismissed the judicial review.