Friday, June 24, 2011

ABC Radio Australia Asia Pacific News, 23 June 2011

Vanuatu parliamentary elections delayed

Parliamentary elections in Vanuatu have been postponed till Sunday, after members of the Edward Natapei camp boycotted the polls.

Parliament was due sit Thursday but members of the Edward Natapei camp were absent, saying their opponents under Sato Kilman have been accepting bribes from foreign businessmen, and bribing ministers to switch camps.

Sato Kilman says the allegations are unfounded.

"I am not aware of businesses that are paying our bills," Mr Kilman said.

In return, the Kilman camp is accusing the Natapei group of trying orchestrate the arrest of members of parliament to try to tip the vote on Sunday.

Edward Natapei also denies the accusations.

"We are not going to do any arrests of the members of parliament," Mr Natapei said.

"What we are trying to investigate are foreign nationals here giving out money to the MPs."

Questions raised over PNG government reshuffle

There has been a major reshuffle of Papua New Guinea's government after two senior ministers were sacked a fortnight ago.

Ano Pala is now in charge of foreign affairs and immigration after his predecessor, Don Polye, was sacked.

Francis Potape replaces William Duma as the petroleum and energy minister.

Two other new ministers, Charles Abel and Philip Kikala, were sworn in by the Governor-General on Wednesday afternoon.

But there are concerns about the reappointment of Patrick Pruaitch, who is now the treasurer and finance minister.

PNG's Ombudsman Commission has referred Mr Pruaitch to prosecutors over several allegations of misconduct including the improper use of electoral allowances.

Dr Ray Anere, from the National Research Institute, says the appointment sends a message of "double standards".

"It also sends out the message that certain leaders in the community do not really care much about principles of good governance and the integrity of parliament," he said.

The reshuffle is also seen as a move by the National Alliance party to strengthen its grip on key ministerial portfolios ahead of next year's national election.

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