7 Sep 2021

In brief: News from around the Pacific

7:59 pm on 7 September 2021

Vanuatu PM and govt MPs retain seats after winning court battle

The Vanuatu Supreme Court has ruled that the prime minister and 18 of his government MPs will be allowed to retain their seats.

The 19 MPs had had their seats declared vacant by the former speaker Gracia Shadrack earlier this year after staging a protest and boycotting three consecutive sitting days.

On Monday, the Supreme Court ruled that the 19 MPs would retain their seats bringing an end to months of instability and uncertainty in Vanuatu politics.

According to the national broadcaster VBTC the ruling centred on the vagueness of the word 'absent' as used in the parliamentary standing orders.

It is unclear at this stage whether or not the ruling will be appealed.

Micronesian countries reiterate Forum withdrawal consensus

Micronesian leaders have reiterated their consensus on withdrawal from the Pacific Islands Forum.

The 20th Micronesian Presidents Summit hosted online last week by Nauru was attended by the leaders of the Marshall Islands, Palau, Kiribati and the Federated States of Micronesia.

The five Micronesian countries announced their intention to withdraw earlier this year when Micronesia's candidate for Forum secretary-general was overlooked in favour of Henry Puna of the Cook Islands.

The five governments said this was a breach of a gentlemen's agreement on sub-regional rotation of the Forum's top job.

Speaking to media after their latest summit Nauru's president Lionel Aingimea said the Forum withdrawal was discussed at length over three days, and that the consensus was to stand by their decision.

However, he acknowledged that discussion with Pacific Islands Forum leaders on the issue were ongoing.

Stranded Tongans in Fiji: 'We want to go home'

Tongan nationals have been stranded in Fiji since March this year after the Kingdom closed its borders because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tongan nationals have been stranded in Fiji since March this year after the Kingdom closed its borders because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Photo: Supplied

More than 20 Tongans stranded in Fiji due to the Covid-19 pandemic feel abandoned by their government.

The group have been in Fiji since March this year after Tonga closed its borders.

They claim their government has "turned a blind eye to their pleas to return home".

The group is also questioning how 14 Chinese nationals were allowed entry into the Kingdom late last month to work on a government project.

Pardon of former Vanuatu prime ministers criticised

Vanuatu's former Minister of Finance Willie Jimmy has challenged the President's decision to pardon three former Prime Ministers.

President Obed Moses Tallis pardoned the criminal convictions of Charlot Salwai, Joe Natuman, and Serge Vohor, clearing them to stand again for public office.

Vanuatu president Tallis Obed Moses

Vanuatu president Tallis Obed Moses Photo: Dan McGarry

Mr Jimmy said the decision is unfair and is calling for equality.

He said he's not allowed to be involved in politics for ten years after pleading guilty to bribery and corruption in 2015.

Mr Jimmy said he also apologised to the nation for his crime but has not found mercy.

He said his convictions bans him and his colleagues from politics for ten years, unlike the three former prime ministers who have now have clean slates.

Oro provincial administrator talks peace after settlement attack

The provincial administrator in Oro, Papua New Guinea, has held a peace ceremony with a community who lost dozens of homes to a fire he reportedly initiated.

Loop PNG reports that in response to having his official vehicle stoned by youths at Double Cross settlement, Trevor Magei mobilised youth from another area of the provincial capital, Popondetta to retaliate.

They went to ransack the settlement, burning 36 houses down in the process.

Mr Magei, who claimed responsibility for the damage, said he accepts that he is subject to a process of law over the attack.

He said he seeks to work with the community to solve the issue, and has identified a new area to resettle the affected families

PNG cricketers lose

Papua New Guinea's cricketers have been well beaten in their first international match since the onset of the global pandemic.

The Barramundis are in Oman preparing for the Men's T20 World Cup, which gets underway in six weeks time.

Playing in a 50 over match against the United States, PNG elected to bat first but were bowled out for 158 in the 45th over.

The PNG Barramundis celebrate a wicket.

The Barramundis Photo: Twitter/T20 World Cup

Captain Assad Vala top scored with 61 runs from 74 balls but only two other players managed to reach double figures.

Charles Amini was the pick of the Barramundis bowlers with 1 for 32 from 8.2 overs but the USA still cruised to their target with seven wickets and 130 balls to spare.

PNG are back in action today in an ODI against Nepal.