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The French ambassador to Vanuatu Robby Judes has been stood down from his position as he is being investigated for alleged assault.
The move has been announced in the Official Journal and approved by the French President Emmanuel Macron.
This comes a month after Judes was summoned to the French foreign ministry in Paris following a complaint of sexual assault lodged against him in New Caledonia.
Judes has rejected the allegations, saying there may a plot against him.
Investigations are continuing and judicial authorities in New Caledonia are reported as saying that Judes cannot invoke diplomatic immunity.
The complaint was lodged to the French High Commission in Noumea by a senior New Caledonian businesswoman Cherifa Linossier after a function which marked the signing of a trade deal between New Caledonia and Vanuatu.
She told local media that she first thought Judes had touched her by mistake but she says he followed her at the function to touch her again.
She said seven other women reported to her that they were also harassed by the ambassador.
She said in December after an economic summit on a small island near Noumea a woman also lodged a formal complaint against Judes.
Linossier said the women find it difficult to speak out, fearing for their jobs and reputation.
SOURCE: RNZ PACIFIC NEWS/PACNEWS
Pacific Islands News Association
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International News Safety Institute (INSI)
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