28 Jun 2023

Pacific news in brief for June 28

1:09 pm on 28 June 2023
Francesca Semoso

Francesca Semoso Photo: Pacific Women in Business

Bougainville - politics

Francesca Semoso, a former Bougainville MP, is running for the Papua New Guinea national parliament, in the North Bougainville seat.

North Bougainville was won last year by the sitting MP, William Nakin, who died during the counting process, forcing a by-election.

Semoso (above) was one of the first three women to win a reserved seat in Bougainville in the first election for an autonomous Bougainville Government in 2005.

She also won this North Bougainville seat in the regional parliamentary elections of 2015.

Semoso is backed by the ruling Pangu Party and Prime Minister James Marape said they need to have more women elected to the National Parliament.

Bougainville - drugs

The government in the autonomous Papua New Guinea region of Bougainville has launched a drug awareness campaign.

The campaign is an initiative of the Bougainville President, Ishmael Toroama, because of what he sees as rising social problems due to marijuana.

He said this is "the very first step our government is taking to combat the issue of drug trafficking and consumption on Bougainville".

The campaign will focus on stopping the growing use and trafficking of illicit drugs, especially marijuana in Bougainville communities, through awareness campaigns and law enforcement.

Solomon Islands - church theft

The Seventh Day Adventist Church in Solomon Islands says over US$13,000 dollars worth of offerings and tithes were stolen in an overnight robbery.

The Solomon Star reports a wooden cash box containing donations was taken from a church building in Gizo, Western Province.

According to a church representative the funds had been intended to support various charity and community initiatives.

PNG - court

Convicted lawyer Paul Paraka is challenging his conviction for misappropriating 162 million kina belonging to the state.

The Post Courier reports Paraka returned on Monday to the National Court, which convicted him last month.

He has filed two motions; one, to set aside the guilty verdict on the grounds of bias, lack of proof and lack of jurisdiction.

Paraka has also asked the court to refer five points of law to the Supreme Court.

Football - Oceania champs

New Caledonia have confirmed their place in the quarter-finals of the Oceania U-19 Women's Championship after beating Tonga 6-0 in their final Group A match in Lautoka.

There were six different scorers for New Caledonia who led 2-0 at half-time.

Meanwhile, Samoa staged a late fightback to seal a 3-2 victory over Vanuatu in Lautoka and confirm their place in the last eight.

Vanuatu's Eline Aruvuha scored after just 18 seconds.

Nellie Vuti gave the Melanesians a 2-1 lead deep into the second half but an own goal gave Samoa an equalisier in the final five minutes before Lilly Dowsing scored an unlikely winner with just two minutes of regular time to go.

Vanuatu must now wait on other results to see if they qualify for the knockout stages.

Pacific - food

A new report from the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) says immediate action is needed to prioritise sustainable diets and safeguard fish and other aquatic species in the Pacific.

The FAO report said that despite high rates of fish consumption in the region, there are concerning trends that indicate a decline in diverse diets and adequate nutrition.

The report said a major contribution to Pacific malnutrition is a shift towards globalised food systems driven by an increasingly cash-based economy and the availability of inexpensive nutrient-poor imported foods.

It makes seven recommendations to achieve better nutrition outcomes including protecting aquatic ecosystems, raising awareness of the benefits of fish and other aquatic foods, and strengthening trade and supply chains.

Fiji - rainbow expo

Fiji's Rainbow Pride Foundation is running an expo showcasing art produced by the LGBTQ+ community.

The 'Queerpreneurs' event is running on Wednesday at the University of the South Pacific's Laucala Bay Campus.

The Rainbow Pride Foundation said the event aims to highlight the various art forms which have become sources of income and economic empowerment, supporting LGBTQ+ community members in their daily lives.

There will also be a pride parade on Saturday.

Samoa - tourism

Samoa's Bureau of Statistics reports a continued increase in visitor arrivals since the country's border reopening in August last year.

In its latest report released this week, visitor arrivals rose by 13 percent for May.

That month recorded just over 15,300 arrivals, compared to April's 13,271.

In 2019, Samoa recorded more than 173,000 visitor arrivals, the highest over the past decade.