Sun, Dec 12, 2004 - Page 6 News List

Vanuatu's prime minister gets the boot

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

Vanuatu's Prime Minister Serge Vohor was deposed yesterday after the country's parliament passed a vote of no confidence against him.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) condemned his ouster as an attempt by China to influence the legislative elections by mobilizing the no-confidence vote.

Vanuatu's parliament initiated procedures for a vote of no confidence against Vohor late Friday night over allegations of corruption and his decision to establish diplomatic ties with Taiwan.

Lawmakers concluded at 3am yesterday that Vohor should go and elected Ham Lini as the new prime minister.

Ministry spokesman Michel Lu (呂慶龍) said Taiwan's diplomats in Vanuatu are trying to persuade the new government to retain diplomatic ties with Taipei.

"The parliament chose to call the vote on the eve of Taiwan's elections. Obviously China is behind all this. It's all too apparent that Beijing intends to influence the elections here," Lu quoted Minister of Foreign Affairs Mark Chen (陳唐山) as saying.

"Our diplomats will explain to the new government that keeping ties with Taiwan would be mutually beneficial. We wish they can understand Taiwan's goodwill," Lu said.

Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Michael Kau (高英茂), who returned from Vanuatu a few days ago, expressed deep regret over the vote against Vohor.

"Over the past 12 years, Vohor has been committed to building diplomatic ties with Taiwan. He eventually signed a diplomatic communique with Taiwan, but has now been forced to step down. I laud his determination to establish official relations with Taiwan," Kau said.

He added that he could not be optimistic about whether Vanuatu's new government will maintain ties with Taipei.

"China has been Vanuatu's ally for more than 20 years and many government officials there, including the new prime minister, are pro-China," he said.

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