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PORT VILA, Vanuatu (The Independent, Dec. 6) – Groups of people from an association known as Vete have taken over the majority of vacant Vanuatu government houses in the capital town of Port Vila.

They are putting pressure on the Vanuatu government to answer claims concerning land in the capital. According to information received by The Independent, the occupying of vacant government quarters in the capital began in October and continues.

A reliable source from the public service department who does not wish to be named expressed the commission's grave concern over the matter. He says it is clear members of Vete Association want government or a responsible institution such as a court to declare who is the landowner of Port Vila land.

"This is a long-standing demand and because there has been no other way they are putting pressure on government by taking over and occupying vacant government quarters to get their concerns answered," he said.

"They enter and occupy the houses by force and then paint graffiti all over the walls of the houses.

"Some of the quarters were only newly painted, but before those designated for the houses could move in, Vete Association members had already gone in and painted their association's sign and taken up residence. One such quarter at Seaside was earmarked for the new police commissioner."

The officer pointed out that the issue of land is different from the issue of housing. He said that taking such a stance will not solve the issue or get an answer to a demand. He said it also raises the question of whether the chiefs of Efate will continue to allow the issue to go on, warning that it has the potential to develop into a very serious matter.

"It is clear the chiefs of Efate are fearful of facing the issue because repeated requests to the Vaturisu Council of Chiefs of Efate and Malfatumauri have met with silence".

He also challenged the chiefs of Efate to seek the court's assistance in the matter.

Meanwhile, he said the public service commission is taking a cautious approach and leaving the whole matter up to the police and the State Law Office to take the lead in resolving the matter of illegal occupation.

The Independent hopes to get the views of the Vete Association, the police, the State Law Office, the Vaturisu Council of Chiefs and the Malfatumauri on this issue in a forthcoming issue in the hope of assisting with an amicable resolution.

Port Vila Presse:

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