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Vanuatu gov. reshuffled after Taiwan controversy
Updated: 2004-12-11 23:55

A new government was formed in Vanuatu when Ham Lini replaced Serge Vohor as prime minister after Vohor's one-man pact with Taiwan plunged the Pacific nation into a constitutional crisis.

Vohor caused a political and constitutional storm last month when he made an unannounced mission to Taipei and signed a communique recognizing Taiwan.

But the council of ministers revoked the deal and decided Vanuatu should stick to its support of the "one-China" policy.

Vohor on Friday lost a Supreme Court case to have a parliamentary vote of no confidence in his rule declared unconstitutional.

Vohor was also accused last weekend of physically assaulting China's new ambassador, Bao Shusheng, by punching him on the shoulder after he complained that the flag of Taiwan was still flying in a hotel.

In a statement, Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said his country places a high priority on its bilateral ties with Vanuatu, and he was keen to work with the new government. Australia had threatened to cut aid to Vanuatu over corruption issues.

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