9 Jun 2021

News from around the Pacific for 8 June

6:23 am on 9 June 2021

More new Covid-19 cases in PNG.

Seven new Covid-19 cases have been reported by Papua New Guinea health auithorities in their latest daily update.

It takes the total number of infections to 16,398.

The official death toll remains at 164.

To date, 117,373 people have been tested for the virus.

So far, a little over 30-thousand people - health workers and essential workers - have been vaccinated against Covid-19.

A health worker takes a swab from a man at a Covid-19 testing centre in Port Moresby. Rates of testing in PNG are incredibly low.

Photo: AFP

Five months without a government in New Caledonia

New Caledonia has entered its fifth month without a properly constituted government.

In early February, the 11-member collegial government fell when its five pro-independence members resigned.

Congress elected a new government, but the 11 ministers, who now include six members of pro-independence parties, have been unable to agree on who should be the president.

In four meetings, none of the candidates managed to secure the minimum six votes needed.

In the absence of a president, the old administration, led by Thierry Santa, remains in place in a caretaker capacity while the budget is being run by the French High Commission.

The president of New Caledonia, Thierry Santa.

The caretaker president of New Caledonia, Thierry Santa. Photo: RNZ / Jamie Tahana

Cooks Opposition queries assistant minister appointments

The Cook Islands opposition says prime minister Mark Brown is out of line giving ministerial roles to all his MPs.

Brown, who retains the key portfolios of foreign affairs and finance, has appointed six cabinet ministers, three associate ministers and three assistant ministers - covering his entire caucus.

Opposition leader Tina Browne said the appointment of assistant ministers was novel and was not supported by legislation.

One of the assistant ministers is Akaiti Puna, the wife of the former prime minister Henry Puna.

She only entered parliament late last month after winning the by-election in Mr Puna's Manihiki seat.

Flosse again calls for French Polynesia sovereignty

French Polynesia's veteran politician Gaston Flosse has again called for the territory to be given sovereignty.

Flosse, who was last president in 2014 after decades of promoting autonomy, says the current statute has run its course.

He says he wants discussions on a state-to-state level to negotiate for French Polynesia to become a country associated with France.

In a television interview, Mr Flosse said the pro-independence movement's attempt to use the UN decolonisation process has been a failure.

The pro-independence leader Oscar Temaru has dismissed Flosse's suggestions as 'crap'.

He says Flosse is talking about a subject that he hasn't mastered.

Last year, Flosse said there should be a referendum on whether French Polynesia becomes a country in association with France.

Gaston Flosse

Gaston Flosse Photo: AFP