6 Apr 2021

In brief: News from around the Pacific

8:19 pm on 6 April 2021

Papuan Governor deported from PNG, Samoan judge brings up firearms concerns, American Samoan hospital cancels surgery over equipment failure and more.

Papua province's Governor Lukas Enembe at Indonesia's Pacific Expo event in Auckland, July 2019

Papua province's Governor Lukas Enembe at Indonesia's Pacific Expo event in Auckland, July 2019 Photo: RNZ / Johnny Blades

Papuan Governor deported from PNG

Immigration authorities in Papua have confirmed that the province's Governor was deported from Papua New Guinea.

The Antara news agency reported Lukas Enembe and two companions were removed from PNG for illegally entering the country.

The Indonesian consulate in Vanimo had to issue travel documents in lieu of passports to the trio.

The immigration office in Jayapura, the capital of Papua Province, is looking into the case.

Mr Enembe had earlier admitted to entering PNG by motorcycle taxi through a small path for medical treatment and therapy.

He spoke of having departed for Vanimo on 31 March for medical treatment.

The governor was deported in the company of Indonesia's consul in Vanimo Allen Simarmata.

When he arrived in the neutral zone, the PNG Consul-General Geoffrey Wiri and Chief of the Border Affairs and Foreign Cooperation of the Papua Provincial Administration, Suzana Wanggai picked him to go to Jayapura.

Tonga's PM to let law take course over cabinet minister

Tonga's Prime Minister Pōhiva Tu'i'onetoa won't say if he will force a cabinet minister to resign if she is found guilty in either of two court cases she is facing.

The Infrastructure Minister, 'Akosita Lavulavu, with her husband, 'Etuate Lavulavu - a former cabinet minister, have been charged with fraud over land they quarried in Vava'u four years ago.

When asked by the website Kaniva Tonga whether he would sack the minister, the prime minister said "Let the law rule."

The opposition leader Sēmisi Sika has said Lavulavu should resign if found guilty.

Samoan Supreme Court judge raises firearms concerns

A Supreme Court judge in Samoa, Justice Vui Clarence Nelson, has raised concern at the discovery of a modified firearm 'not seen before by the courts.

The Samoa Observer newspaper reported Justice Vui made the comment during the sentencing of Pitoitua Aloese on multiple narcotics and firearms charges.

He pleaded guilty to the charges that stemmed from an unexpected raid at Fa'atoia in December 2019 while four co-defendants pleaded not guilty.

Aloese later became a witness for the prosecution against his co-defendants who all denied the charges but have since been found guilty.

On the firearms, Justice Vui said the modified gun could cause as much damage as a .22 rifle because of its short barrel.

He sentenced Aloese to three years in jail.

American Samoa hospital cancels surgeries because of equipment failure

Some surgeries at American Samoa's only hospital, the LBJ, were delayed or cancelled because a critical piece of machinery wasn't working.

The autoclave, which sterilises surgical tools, has been down for about a month.

Our correspondent said only one operating room had been functioning and only emergency operations were being performed.

The Chief Executive confirmed the autoclave was out of action but said the operations that did go ahead use tools that were sterilised in the dental department's autoclave.

Parts for the autoclave were ordered but hadn't made the 20 March cargo flight.

These parts arrived the following week and engineering work to repair the autoclave is ongoing.

Facebook launches Samoa election initiative

Facebook is launching what it calls an Election Day Prompt, encouraging voters in Samoa to get out and vote ahead of the General Elections on Friday.

The prompt was available in Samoan and English and encouraged people to vote, directing them to further information on the Office of the Electoral Commission's website.

The Election Day Prompt supported a range of integrity measures Facebook would have during the elections.

The measures included providing access to Facebook's advertising library, removing fake accounts, working closely with the Office of the Electoral Commission, political parties and other electoral authorities and running a security reminder for candidates and political parties.

Facebook said they wanted to make sure Samoans had access to credible information about the election and hoped to encourage them to get out and vote.

ABG says all Bougainvilleans duty to prepare for independence

The Bougainville Government says it's the duty of all Bougainvilleans to prepare the region for independence.

This comes as Bougainville begins consultations with Papua New Guinea on the outcome of the referendum on independence, in which the region resoundingly vote to become independent.

The government has launched what it calls an Independence Ready Mission starting in the Tonsu constituency.

It calls on everyone to ensure Bougainville is ready to attain the powers to become an independent sovereign state.

Each of the MPs in the autonomous government is expected to provide leadership to ensure this independence by progressing socio-economic development in their respective constituencies.

The President, Ishmael Toroama, said Bougainville must maintain the spirit of independence.

He called on leaders to be agents of change by promoting progress in social welfare, good governance, and economic and infrastructural development.

He said maintaining peace and stability was part of being 'independence-ready'.

Key government agencies were also required to show they were ready.