29 Jul 2021

In brief: news from around the Pacific

3:53 pm on 29 July 2021
Samoa prime minister Fiamē Naomi Mata'afa chairing her first FAST party cabinet meeting.

Samoa prime minister Fiamē Naomi Mata'afa chairing her first FAST party cabinet meeting. Photo: Eyespy Radio (Samoa) 87.5

American Samoa congratulates Samoa's new Prime Minister

American Samoa's Governor as well as the territory's delegate to the US House of Representatives have sent separate congratulatory messages to Samoa's first female Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mata'afa.

Speaking at a cabinet meeting, the Governor, Lemanu Peleti Mauga says he congratulated Fiame over the phone, adding that American Samoa expressed blessings to the new government of Samoa.

The Territory's Congresswoman, Uifa'atali Amata also congratulated Fiame on her historic leadership role as the first female Prime Minister of Samoa.

In a statement, she said she congratulated the Prime Minister, and wished her and her Government and the people of Samoa all the best.

The Congresswoman said she look forward to working with Fiame on important issues that affected the US, American Samoa, and Samoa.

She also thanked former prime minister, Tuila'epa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi for his many years of dedicated service to Samoa and friendship to the U.S.

US and the Federated States of Micronesia agree on a plan to build a military base.

The United States and the Federated States of Micronesia have agreed on a plan to build a military base in the Pacific island nation.

The Pacific Islands Times report the move is in line with the Pentagon's strategic ambition to increase its footprint in the Indo-Pacific region and keep China at bay.

The agreement followed talks this week in Hawaii between FSM President David Panuelo and a U.S. team led by Admiral John Aquilino, commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command.

President Panuelo said the U.S. commitment to his nation's security manifests in many forms, such as climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts through the US Agency for International Development and U.S. Coast Guard Search and Rescue operations, law enforcement training, and more.

Vanuatu opposition says sentence given to Lengkon is too light

The leader of the opposition in Vanuatu, Ralph Regenvanu, says the sentence given to the Minister of Climate Change, Bruno Lengkon, is far too light.

Vanuatu's supreme Court has ordered that the Lengkon pay a fine of over $US2,600 and carry out 120 hours of community work for breaching civil aviation rules.

Mr Regenvanu has urged the Public Prosecutor to appeal against the light sentence.

Our correspondent said the public has also criticized the leniency of the ruling on the social media.

Lengkon pleaded guilty to behaving in a disorderly manner while under the influence of alcohol on a flight from Luganville to Port Vila.

The complainant, an expatriate pilot on an inter-island aircraft, had complained of being sexually assaulted by the Minister.

He was ordered to pay the fine within 21 days.

Lengkon who is an MP from Ambrym Island organised custom ceremonies to say sorry to his voters for his behaviour.

Vanuatu receives another 20,000 doses of AstraZeneca from Australia.

Vanuatu has received another 20,000 doses of AstraZeneca from the Australian Government.

Our correspondent said there's been huge interest in the community to get the Astra-Zeneca vaccine with 24,000 doses already administered in Vanuatu.

The Director of Health, Russell Tamata said the arrival of this shipment will help continue the vaccindation roll-out in Vanuatu.

It is expected that the first roll out of AstraZeneca in Santo, in the Northern part of Vanuatu, will begin next month.

The Minister of Health, Sailas Bule, is urging people to get the vaccine for the safety of themselves, their families and also the people of Vanuatu.

PNG's announces new Covid-19 cases.

Papua New Guinea's official Covid-19 numbers now stand at 17,670 after the government announced 15 new cases.

Numbers are likely significantly higher as government has scaled back testing efforts in favour of vaccination.

The cases were reported in Morobe, Madang, the National Capital District, Western Highlands and Jiwaka.

Officials say there are 192 known Covid-19 deaths.

Nearly 146,000 people have been tested for the coronavirus in a nation where the population is close to eight million.

Covid-19 is now present in all 22 provinces, including the Autonomous Region of Bougainville.