9 Feb 2024

Pacific news in brief for February 9

5:38 pm on 9 February 2024
People run with merchandise as crowds leave shops with looted goods amid a state of unrest in Port Moresby on January 10, 2024. A festering pay dispute involving Papua New Guinea's security forces on January 10 sparked angry protests in the capital, where a crowd torched a police car outside the prime minister's office. By Wednesday afternoon pockets of unrest had spread through the capital Port Moresby, with video clips on social media showing crowds looting shops and stretched police scrambling to restore order. (Photo by Andrew KUTAN / AFP)


Papua New Guinea - charges

50 police personnel in Papua New Guinea are facing disciplinary charges over their alleged involvement in last month's civil unrest.

Commissioner David Manning is reported by The National saying this follows investigations by police internal affairs.

The worst of the riots and looting on 10 January occurred in the capital Port Moresby where as many as 22 people died, businesses were destroyed and hundreds of millions of kina of damage caused.

Manning said police will also be looking at those in command positions during the unrest.

He said the head of the police association, who is an inspector within the force, is facing criminal charges.

Manning said the force is aware that much more needs to be done for police to reconnect with the communities in Port Moresby.

Fiji - bailed

Former Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama, former Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum and a former Health Minister Dr Neil Sharma have been released on bail after spending a night in a police cell.

The three are facing abuse of office-related charges in relation to a tender process in 2011.

Acting Chief Magistrate Waleen George granted them strict bail conditions including ten-thousand-fijian-dollars in cash bond (US$5,000), surrendering travel documents and reporting to the police station once every fortnight.

The matter has been adjourned to 19 March.

Cook Islands - sworn

Pukapuka-Nassau MP Tingika Elikana has been sworn in as the new Cook Islands Minister for Foreign Affairs, Marine Resources and Parliamentary Services.

The Cook Islands News reports he replaced Robert Tapaitau in the role after he was removed from parliament following a corruption conviction last week.

Tapaitau, who was also the Deputy Prime Minister, leaves the Tongareva seat vacant.

A by-election is set for 12 March 12.

Solomon Islands - roads

Calls are growing for better road management in Solomon Islands.

The Chamber of Commerce and Industry is the latest to raised concerns, saying the state of the roads are so bad it's impacting on business.

This, following the former Solomon Islands opposition leader Matthew Wale claiming road conditions in Honiara are the worst they have ever been.

The chamber has identified six issues, including poor traffic management leading to bumper to pumper traffic.

It said the situation shows the general public, the private sector and international visitors that the responsible agencies are not capable or are too understaffed to deal with the matter.

Kiribati - support

Kiribati President Taneti Maamau has praised China for its support to the island during a reception for the Spring Festival at the Chinese Embassy in Kiribati.

He said Kiribati and China have continued to forge a friendship rooted in mutual respect, cooperation, and commitment.

President Maamau said China's support to Kiribati has been instrumental in fostering economic development and enhancing education, building capacity and resilience, and improving infrastructure.

He said the collaborative efforts between the countries have contributed significantly to the well-being and prosperity of the people of Kiribati.

West Papua - office

The interim leader of the United Liberation Movement of West Papua, Benny Wenda, has arrived in Port Vila in Vanuatu to set up his office.

This will be on the land allocated to the people of West Papua by the Vanuatu Government.

Wenda told the custom chiefs of Shefa Province he is not in a hurry to leave, saying he feels mandated by God to establish his office in Port Vila.

The Vanuatu Daily Post reports Wenda hopes other members of his govt will join him in Port Vila.

Moana - sequel

Disney's Moana will be sailing back onto the big screens this November.

The surprise sequel was announced by Disney's CEO Bob Iger on Wednesday.

Iger said "Moana remains an incredibly popular franchise" having earned US$680- million at the box office and passing one-billion hours of streaming on Disney-plus.

Moana 2 will see Moana and Maui embark on a grand adventure, voyaging forgotten seas of Oceania following a call from her way-finding ancestors.