6 Nov 2021

In brief: News from around the Pacific

2:25 pm on 6 November 2021

PNG despatches soldiers to area where West Papuans have fled from conflict in neighbouring Indonesia

Papua New Guinea has despatched a small unit of soldiers to a remote border area where displaced West Papuans have fled to from neighbouring Indonesia.

West Papuans displaced by armed conflict in Bintang Mountains regency, October 2021.

West Papuans displaced by armed conflict in Bintang Mountains regency, October 2021. Photo: Supplied

PNG's Defence Force Commander, Gilbert Toropo, told the ABC that 11 soldiers will go to assess the situation in Tumolbil where hundreds of people displaced by conflict in West Papua have fled.

Commander Toropo said while he is yet to receive a detailed report, the soldiers will be finding out how many people have crossed over and whether Papuan rebel fighters or Indonesian soldiers are among them.

He said he is concerned that conflict in Indonesia could affect PNG citizens and wants the two governments to sit down and discuss a way forward.

Covid-19 case in Vanuatu moved to main hospital

One of the two Covid-19 cases who arrived in Vanuatu on a flight from New Caledonia with "mild symptoms", has been removed from quarantine and isolated at Vila Central Hospital.

Vanuatu's Acting Director General of Health, Dr Samuel Posikai said the case is in an Isolation Ward at Vila Central Hospital.

Health authorities say the result of samples taken which have been sent to Melbourne, for clarification on whether it is the Delta Variant, will be confirmed within the next 48 hours.

Meanwhile Dr Posikai said in case of a Covid outbreak, Vanuatu will need a further 153 nurses and 83 support staff in a worst-case scenario.

Tina Sablan to run for CNMI Governor

A representative in the Northern Marianas legislature, Tina Sablan, will be the Northern Marianas Islands (NMI) Democratic Party's candidate for governor in next year's general elections.

This, after the CNMI opposition party's 18-member Central Executive Committee unanimously approved the recommendation of the Gubernatorial Search Committee to select Sablan as their standard-bearer in next year's election.

At the same meeting, the Democratic Party also endorsed Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan's re-election as delegate to U.S. Congress.

The NMI Republican Party earlier endorsed the tandem of incumbent Governor Ralph DLG Torres and Senator Vinnie Sablan as its candidates in 2022.

In a statement, Tina Sablan said she was honoured and deeply humbled to accept the nomination of the Democratic Party to stand as its candidate for governor.

"I am ready and willing to serve you, the people of the Commonwealth, as that kind of governor. We have so much work to do, to clean up our government and our islands, build an economy that raised everyone up, and chart a new path forward for a healthier, safer, fairer, and more beautiful Commonwealth that we can all be proud of," she said.

In her letter of intent to run, Tina Sablan said she has spent the better part of her adult life advocating and fighting for good governance in the Commonwealth-as a legislator, as a journalist, as a citizen, and daughter of the Marianas.

Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. Arnold Palacios, has also announced that he will be running for governor with Saipan Mayor David M. Apatang as his running-mate under an independent ticket.

Vanuatu's Nagriamel calls on govt to not make Covid-19 vaccination mandatory

Vanuatu's Nagriamel Custom Movement, established by the late Santo rebellion leader, Jimmy Steven, is calling on the government not to make Covid-19 vaccination compulsory.

The current secretary general of the Nagriamel Political Commission, Jeff Batunvanu, said compulsory vaccination goes against people's rights.

He said it is understood the government is considering legislation to do this.

But Mr Batunvanu said some people's decisions are on their Christian faith and such a ruling by the government will take away their individual rights.

He said it's his earnest request that the government makes a thorough analysis before making a decision on any new regulation.