MINISTER WARNS NGOS

Minister of Internal Affairs, Andrew Napuat

The Vanuatu Government will not tolerate foreign organisations interfering with political issues of this country.

This was the stark warning issued by the Minister of Internal Affairs, Andrew Napuat, who also responsible for Non-Government Organisations (NGOs).

The minister made the firm statement on Wednesday in response to concerns raised by the Vanuatu National Council of Women (VNCW) and quite a number of people in relation to Oxfam's alleged involvement with women in their ongoing 'Vot Woman' Campaign, to get women into parliament.

He stated, "Oxfam has stepped out of its boundary by interfering with political affairs of this nation.

"Vanuatu is a democratic country and people have the right to share their concerns to the government on whatever issues that they see are important to them."

The minister stressed that there are mechanisms in place and procedures for women to follow to address their issues to relevant authorities.

Napuat confirmed he was approached by VNCW, the national women's umbrella organisation, with their concerns relating to Oxfam's status with the campaign and the recent march on 50% women representation in Parliament.

"We need to respect the decisions of VNCW because that is the recognised body mandated by the Government to oversee the affairs of women in Vanuatu.

"It is obvious, and everybody knows that the issue was initiated by a NGO.

"Obviously, this is not an urgent issue that women are fighting for.

"The women of Vanuatu know when to bring forward this issue to the attention of the national government.

"If it is an issue of national interest, then the people of Vanuatu must raise the issue with the Government.

"We cannot accept foreign NGOs to come and get involved with political issues of this country."

Napuat said he cannot deny the fact that Oxfam has done a lot of works in other areas to help improve the lives of the people in Vanuatu.

He said he believes there are other approaches that Oxfam could tap on in supporting women to raise this issue, but not directly push the issue and demand the change, move with a group of women and dividing women's views on this issue.

"That is totally unacceptable in Vanuatu.

"Even not all women are supporting this issue, and we have read that in the newspaper."

Minister Napuat confirmed that the NGOs Desk Officer within Ministry of Internal Affairs is aware of the issue and inline with Policy for the Regulation of NGOs which was launched in 2018, he will be dealing with it with the organisation concerned.

The NGO minister further added that the NGO Desk Officer could take any actions against the organisation in question if they are found to be breaching the NGOs Regulations.

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