20 Nov 2023

Pacific news in brief for November 20

4:31 pm on 20 November 2023
Bruno Leingkone at the Parliament Complex.

Bruno Leingkone (file) Photo: Hilaire Bule

Vanuatu - politics

Vanuatu's Speaker Simeon Seoule has welcomed the Appeal Court's decision to dismiss the appeal of former Ambrym MP Bruno Leingkone that his seat was wrongly vacated.

Seoule had ruled Leingkone had lost his seat after being absent from parliament for three sittings, receiving a medical treatment overseas, without the permission of the Speaker.

The Appeal Court also ordered that the Leingkone to pay the Speaker's costs of US$1,750.

Seoule said Leingkone's appeal failure shows the operation of the law on the vacation of seats has prevailed.

He said it provides a clear example to guide current and future MPs on the vacation of seats rule.

The ruling ends speculation that if Leingkone had won his appeal, there would be a constitutional case to challenge the legality of the election of Charlot Salwai as prime minister.

A by-election is to be held in Ambrym.

Samoa - law

Family laws governing the welfare of children enacted during Samoa's colonial past are currently under review.

Ministry of Justice and Courts Administration chief executive Papalii John Taimalelagi said the review follows the earlier work by the Samoa Law Reform Commission.

Papalii said that it was time for Samoa to review those laws.

The Samoa Observer reports the laws include the Infants Ordinance 1961, the Marriage Ordinance 1961, the Divorce and Matrimonial Causes Ordinance 1961, the Maintenance and Affiliation Act 1967, the Family Safety Act 2013 and the Family Court Act 2014.

Consultations with stakeholders are underway with public dialogue beginning Friday in Savaii, and Upolu is scheduled for the following week.

Tonga - arrest

A 54 year old-man in Tonga described by police as "a political activist" has been arrested on a charge of attempted murder.

A police statement said an investigation has revealed substantial evidence linking the suspect to a serious crime.

It added that police are actively pursuing additional charges.

It was also not clear whether or not the investigation was related to any complaints.

Police Commissioner Shane McLennan told Matangi Tonga that further details will be forthcoming as the investigation progresses.

He said the words "political activist" were not intended to be part of the charge or crime.

US/Vanuatu - assistance

USAID is providing US$1.3 million in humanitarian assistance for the communities affected by Tropical Cyclone Lola.

Much of the money will go towards emergency food, shelter, protection and WASH support for 4,000 households on Pentecost and Maewo.

In the aftermath of the cyclone, the United Nations World Food Programme with the support of USAID's Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, is working with Vanuatu's National Disaster Management Office to enhance humanitarian response and logistics coordination.

This joint effort aims to ensure that people affected by the cyclone receive timely and essential assistance.

Fiji - greenpreneur

27 sustainable start-ups in Fiji were recognised recently at the Pacific Greenpreneur awards.

Graduates of the programme were honoured, and some given a financial boost - winning start-ups receiving grants of up to US$50,000.

The Pacific Greenpreneurs programme supports start-ups working on sustainable agriculture, tourism, and transport amongst other things.

Grant recipient Senirosi Bevu said the event encourages businesses to "tackle environmental challenges, drive innovation and contribute to the sustainable growth of Fijian communities".

New Caledonia - soccer

New Caledonia ended their difficult FIFA Under-17 World Cup adventure with a 5-0 defeat to Iran in their final group match in Bandung, Indonesia on Saturday.

Having suffered heavy defeats to England and Brazil, the Melanesian side were keen to end their campaign with an improved performance and did that against their Asian opponents.

New Caledonia defended well to hold the fancied Iranians to two-nil until the final 20 minutes during which they conceded three goals.