VANUATU OMBUDSMAN REFUTES ATTORNEY GENERAL'S CLAIMS

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PORT VILA, Vanuatu (August 12, 1998 - PACNEWS/Tuqiri)---Vanuatu's Ombudsman, Marie-Noelle Ferrieux-Patterson, has refuted claims by the country's Attorney General, Ham Bulu, that her jurisdiction as Ombudsman has not changed.

Ferrieux-Patterson, in a letter to Bulu, expressed disappointment over his views, saying his statement was misleading and confusing.

She said that she currently operates only under powers granted to her under the constitution, due to the repeal of the Ombudsman's Act by the former government of Serge Vohor.

Ferrieux-Patterson says her powers have been greatly diminished, particularly after the Supreme Court of Vanuatu ruled last month that repeal of the bill was both constitutional and valid.

She says the present Government of Prime Minister Donald Kalpokas has repeatedly promised that it will introduce a new Ombudsman's Act to restore her powers, but has not acted on that pledge.

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