Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Radio New Zealand International Pacific News, 15 June 2011

Supreme Court verdict on Vanuatu Prime Ministership postponed

A Supreme Court ruling on the constitutionality of Sato Kilman’s leadership of the government of Vanuatu has been postponed until tomorrow morning.

On Monday Chief Justice Vincent Lanabek heard witnesses for both the opposition leader, Edward Natapei and prime minister Kilman as well as the speaker and clerk of parliament.

The court heard that there was no election last December to select Mr Kilman as prime minister despite the fact that Vanuatu’s constitution states that parliament shall elect the prime minister by secret ballot.

The court’s expected to deliver its ruling at eight o’clock tomorrow morning.

Mr Natapei says if the ruling’s in Mr Kilman’s favour, when parliament sits half an hour later the motion of no confidence he posted last week will be the first item for debate.

Mr Natapei says if the ruling goes against Mr Kilman he’ll cancel the motion and begin legal proceedings against the five MPs accused of perjury.

Solomon Islands PM acknowledges NZ development aid

The Solomon Islands prime minister, Danny Philip, has acknowledged the development aid given by New Zealand as the main beneficiary in Melanesia.

Speaking after talks with the visiting New Zealand foreign minister, Murray McCully, Mr Philip noted the importance of the help to upgrade the Munda runway to make it an international airport and a gateway to the country’s west.

Mr Philip also says his administration endeavours to take over more of the policing work which is being done and funded by the Regional Assistance Mission.
“There is a temptation to fall into a laisser faire that RAMSI is doing everything for us. But there is a very important investment of our own resources into our own local police here to strengthen, to improve and to consolidate our own police force.”
The Solomon Islands prime minister, Danny Philip.

PNG Opposition calls for acting PM to step down over murder inquiry

Papua New Guinea’s Opposition is calling for the acting Prime Minister Sam Abal to step down while police conduct an inquiry into a murder on his property.

The Police Commissioner says Mr Abal contacted him after a security guard discovered the body of a woman in the grounds of his private residence early on Monday morning.

Anthony Wagambie says witnesses have stated Mr Abal’s adopted son was the last person seen in the company of the woman at the Konedobu property and police are appealing for Teo Abal to come in and assist with their inquiry.

Our correspondent in Port Moresby Jonathan Tannos says the Opposition is urging Mr Abal to stand aside in order to avoid interference or impediments to the police inquiry.
“They called on him to step aside saying this was probably the most honourable thing for him to do considering that elsewhere perhaps in the Commonwealth where leaders were directly implicated into serious cases of this nature naturally the leader would step aside to allow investigations.”

NZ Foreign Minister questions whether Mara would receive fair trial in Fiji

New Zealand’s Foreign Minister Murray McCully says there would be some obstacles to overcome if Fiji tries to get former Fiji military officer Ratu Tevita Mara extradited from New Zealand.

Colonel Mara fled to Tonga last month to escape a sedition charge.

He’s currently visiting Australia on a Tongan passport and six month visa, and plans to visit New Zealand later this month.

Fiji’s Attorney-General has filed extradition papers with the Australian Attorney General and says he plans to seek the extradition of Colonel Mara from every country he visits.

Mr McCully says New Zealand would follow due process in considering any extradition.
“In dealing with extradition requests, countries always have some regard for the prospect of a fair trial in the country to which the person would be sent, and a look at their record for human rights abuses as well, and I think that would raise some questions in relation to Fiji.”
Meanwhile, Ratu Tevita says he’s had legal advice not to worry about attempts to extradite him.
“It’s coming from an illegal regime by an illegal Attorney-General so I don’t think we should be paying much attention to that. I’ve been given my visa and I am within the bounds of my visa.”
Colonel Mara says he’ll check on the visa he’s been promised for a two day visit to New Zealand.
A spokesman for the Australian Attorney-General’s office says it doesn’t comment on extradition requests.

NZ Minister wants to plan RAMSI’s transition to development in Solomons

The New Zealand foreign minister, Murray McCully, says he wants to use his visit to Solomon Islands to push for a better plan for the Regional Assistance Mission’s transition into development work.

Mr McCully has arrived in Honiara to meet the Solomons government and the new special co-ordinator of RAMSI, which has been the country’s security backbone for eight years.

He says New Zealand’s wish to revisit the mission’s scope needs to be done jointly with other participating countries.
“It would be a mistake for us just to sit back and say we’re there until after the next election. I think the current government there has shored up his position. We’ve got ministers there that we need to be talking to as well. I’m going to be making sure that we have a very active conversation about what the way forward looks like for RAMSI, what it means in terms of the shift from security to development work.”

Fiji’s Mara not worried by attempt to extradite him from Australia

The former military officer Lieutenant Colonel Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba Mara, says he’s not worried about attempts by Fiji to extradite him from every country he visits.

Colonel Mara who fled to Tonga after being charged with sedition is now in Australia on a six month visa speaking to pro-democracy groups.

Fiji’s Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says he’s filed extradition papers with the Australian Attorney General.

Colonel Mara, who’s travelling on a Tongan passport, says he’s had legal advice not to worry about attempts to extradite him.
“It’s coming from an illegal regime by an illegal Attorney-General so I don’t think we should be paying much attention to that. I’ve been given my visa and I am within the bounds of my visa.”
Colonel Mara says he’ll check today on the visa he’s been promised for a two day visit to New Zealand.
A spokesman for the Australian Attorney-General’s office says it doesn’t comment on extradition requests.

onga’s first troops to Afghanistan return home Thursday

Tonga’s first contingent of soldiers to have served in Afghanistan will return home on Thursday.

Fifty-five Tongan soldiers have been deployed in Helmand Province for six months.

Lieutenant Commander Solomone Savelio told Matangi Tonga Online the country’s second deployment of 55 soldiers had taken up duties at the British Camp Bastion, after a hand-over ceremony with the first contingent in June.

He says a third contingent will be deployed to Afghanistan at the end of this year, while a final contingent will be sent around the middle of 2012.

Tonga’s deployment into Afghanistan is to support a NATO-led International Security Armed Forces Mission.

Tongan soldiers are working alongside British troops and United States Marines, conducting force protection and security on the boundaries of Camp Bastion.

NGO says more than half of Fiji lacks access to safe drinking water

Research from an international children’s NGO has found more than half of Fiji’s population lacks access to safe drinking water.

Save The Children makes the comment in its 12th annual report on the State of the World’s Mothers 2011.
The finding places Fiji in the same category as Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Mozambique, Niger, Papua New Guinea and Sierra Leone.

The report commemorated Mother’s Day and celebrates the great progress the world has made in recent decades to reduce deaths among children under five years of age.

Delegation head to Solomon province to find cause of dead fish

Officials are heading to Marovo lagoon in the Western Province of the Solomon Islands to investigate why schools of fish are dying.

For over a week locals have reported seeing dead creatures including fish and crocodiles in the lagoon.

A deputy director from the Ministry of Fisheries, James Teri, says a team is heading there today to try and get to the bottom of the mystery.
“Fish are dying and even crocodiles were seen floating along the surface of the water. We’re estimating it covers an area of 40 kilometres square. We’ll be sending a team down today comprising the Ministry of Environment and Public Health to confirm what’s the source.”
James Teri says some locals believe someone has dumped chemicals in the water, but officials suspect harmful algae bloom is the source.

He says people should not eat fish from the lagoon until the situation is cleared up.

Vanuatu’s Natapei will only stay on as caretaker PM if court rules in his favour

Vanuatu’s opposition leader, Edward Natapei, says he will only stay on as caretaker prime minister until the next prime ministerial election if the Supreme Court today restores him as the head of government.

Mr Natapei has challenged last Decembers parliamentary move to choose Sato Kilman as prime minister after being ousted in a vote of no confidence.

Walter Zweifel reports.
“The Supreme Court is today due to give its verdict on the constitutionality of bestowing the prime ministership on Mr Kilman without holding a vote by secret ballot. Mr Natapei says he accepts he was voted out but says a ruling in his favour still means that a new prime minister has to be elected. He says he would maintain his co-operation agreement with Serge Vohor and stand aside as candidate for the prime ministership, with an election still possible this month. Mr Natapei says he is also seeking legal advice on whether to pursue some MPs for perjury after they testified that a vote had taken place to choose Mr Kilman.”

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