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PORT VILA, Vanuatu (July 15, 1997 - PACNEWS)---Speculation has heightened in the Vanuatu capital of Port Vila that the Melanesian nation's watch dog ombudsman, Marie Noelle Patterson, may soon lose her post.

The Vanuatu government has stopped rental payments on her residence, apparently emphasizing its dissatisfaction with her work. Director of Public Service Waimini Perei confirmed his department had canceled the payments, but did not elaborate.

The relationship between Patterson and the Vanuatu government has been shaky for some time, due to the ombudsman’s continuing criticism of government actions.

Political observers believe moves will be made against Patterson during the August session of Parliament. Options open to the government include sacking the ombudsman or reducing her powers.



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