Wallis continues easing Covid-19 measures; Japan pledges 3 million doses of Covid-19 to the Pacific Bougainville and PNG leaders to meet in Wabag; Lavulavu attempted bribery in Tonga court case; New Cook Islands police chief settles in; Scam investigation underway in Vanuatu
Wallis continues easing Covid-19 measures
People in Wallis and Futuna no longer need to wear masks outside as the territory is now in phase 5 of its Covid-19 response.
After a sharp lockdown in early March, restrictions have been gradually eased and schools have been open for two weeks now.
In phase five indoor sport events are allowed again but bingo is still banned.
The territory has had no Covid-19 case since late April after the March outbreak quickly infected more than 400 people and killed seven.
In a swift response to the outbreak, France provided vaccines for all residents but almost half the population declined the inoculation.
Japan pledges 3 million doses of Covid-19 to the Pacific
Japan has said it will provide Pacific island nations and territories with 3 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine from mid-July through the UN-backed COVAX global vaccine sharing program.
The Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announcement came as leaders of Japan and Pacific Island nations and territories held their 9th annual gathering of Pacific leaders - this time online meeting.
In the virtual meeting, the Kyodo news agency reports Japan also pledged assistance to help Pacific countries recover from the coronavirus pandemic by strengthening health care and medical systems and providing economic relief.
Bougainville and PNG leaders in key meeting in Wabag
The leaders of Bougainville and Papua New Guinea gather this week for a key meeting to discuss the result of the region's independence referendum.
The meeting, in Wabag in Enga Province, is of the Joint Supervisory Body, or JSB, which met just over a month ago in East New Britain.
The meeting, to be co-chaired by President Ishmael Toroama and the PNG Prime Minister, James Marape, were put back several days by the sudden death late last month of Bougainville Health minister, and former Vice President, Raymond Masono.
The talks focus in the referendum and Bougainville's clear desire for full independence from PNG.
After the last JSB meeting Mr Toroama said Bougainville would be self-governing by 2022 and it would achieve its goal of independence by 2025.
Commitments have been made by Port Moresby to transfer more powers to Bougainville and hurdles that had been hindering this process have been eased.
Lavulavu tried to bribe to avoid jail - Tonga judge
Tonga judge, Justice Nicholas Cooper, has revealed 'Etuate Lavulavu, who was jailed for six years for illegally obtaining state funds, tried to bribe his way out of jail.
The former cabinet minister and his wife, 'Akosita, a current cabinet minister, were jailed on Friday for six years.
The sentence revolves around the school they ran and their misappropriation of hundreds of thousands of pa'anga in public funding, by hugely inflating student numbers.
Matangi Tonga reports Justice Cooper, in his sentencing notes, saying he took no account of the corrupting of the trial process by both defendants and their submission of false references.
He said he ignored the fact that 'Etuate Lavulavu tried to influence the outcome of the trial with the lure of money.
Justice Cooper said had either defendant admitted their guilt and repaid the money, money it appears they have, then he would have approached the sentencing differently.
The judge said while Mrs Lavulavu had two young children he couldn't lessen her sentence.
He said it could be argued she deliberately put her children's well being in jeopardy through her criminal behaviour.
But because of her hitherto good character she has been given one year suspended, so should be out of prison after five years.
For 'Etuate Lavulavu, who once started a fight with 'Akilisi Pohiva on the floor of parliament, and an earlier conviction for fraud, meant no suspension of his sentence.
New Cook Islands police chief uses overseas contacts
The new Cook Islands police chief, James Keenan, said Australasian contacts are already helping with ongoing investigations.
The former New Zealand police officer, who was born in the Cooks, was sworn in last week, though he's been on the job for a month.
He told the Cook Islands News his overseas colleagues were already assisting with forensics and experience.
Mr Keenan joined the New Zealand force in 1984 after leaving the Cooks at the age of 15, reaching the rank of inspector 20 years later.
Prime Minister and Minister of Police Mark Brown called Mr Keenan an old school policeman but with a bag of new tricks.
Mr Brown said "as both a highly experienced and ranked police officer and a returning Cook Islander, I know he will already be working closely with his team and I look forward to seeing how things develop under his guidance over the years to come."
Scam investigation underway in Vanuatu
Vanuatu's Financial Services Commission has ordered a newly formed company to stop accepting new customers, pending checks on its compliance.
The company, Blessed to be Blessed, has been given to the end of the week to comply with all guidelines under the Financial Services Commission Act.
Commission spokesman Floyd Mera says the company has been ordered to fulfill promises made to existing customers that it would double their money.
Our correspondent says there is concern the operation could be a scam as it is reportedly attracting a lot of interest amid the insecurity caused by the pandemic.