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PORT VILA, Vanuatu (April 8, 2002 - VBTC/PINA Nius Online)---Vanuatu's chapter of the global corruption fighting group Transparency International has written to all parties contesting May's general elections asking for a formal commitment to democratic principles and practices.

Vanuatu has been hit hard by corruption in recent years and politicians are accused of looting the public purse for their own interests.

This has caused essential services to run down and failed to guarantee citizens with basic democratic freedoms, according to Transparency International Vanuatu.

Chapter president Ivette Sam said despite almost 200 official investigations by the Ombudsman into irregularities and injustices, almost none were acted upon.

She said the people of Vanuatu were powerless to prevent politicians and corrupt administrators from treating them with contempt.

Founding President of Transparency International Vanuatu Marie-Noelle Patterson has resigned to stand for Parliament.

Points covered in Ms. Sam's letter included the needs for basic rights, such as freedom of speech, association and news media, together with independent courts and a disciplined police force.

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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