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PORT VILA, Vanuatu (April 16, 2001 – Radio Australia)---It has been revealed that former Vanuatu Prime Minister Barak Sope tried to impose a state of emergency on the country just before he lost a parliamentary vote of no confidence on Friday.

Mr. Sope's government had been trying to cling to power, even arguing that the Supreme Court was in contempt of Parliament by ordering the vote to go ahead.

The publisher of Vanuatu's Trading Post newspaper, Mark Neil-Jones, said there also had been some concern that Mr. Sope might try to use the police force to stay in power, but in the end they refused his request.

"The acting commissioner, Arthur Coleton, called a press conference and made it clear that the police were neutral, "Mr. Neil-Jones said, "and I have had it confirmed by police sources that the prime minister, Sope, on Friday, did contact the acting commissioner and ask for a state of emergency.

"Now, if a state of emergency had been called the military would have gone in and that is exactly what people were concerned about," the newspaper publisher said.

After losing the vote of no confidence Friday, Mr. Sope was succeeded as prime minister by Edward Natapei.

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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