10 May 2024

Pacific news in brief for May 10

10:37 am on 10 May 2024
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres delivers remarks during the End of Year Press Conference at the UN headquarters in New York City on December 19, 2022. (Photo by Ed JONES / AFP)


Tonga - visit

The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will attend the 53rd Pacific Islands Forum leader's meeting in August, Tonga's prime minister says.

Matangi Tonga reported Hu'akavameiliku Siaosi Sovaleni met Guterres during a bilateral meeting in New York last September.

Hu'akavameiliku said having high-profile representatives at the Forum meeting is important.

Tonga's government is expecting at least 1000 participants.

Northern Marianas - guilty

A former Saipan high school band teacher has pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography in a Malaysia court.

The man was arrested in Malaysia in February.

He has pleaded not guilty to sexual harrassment charges, and also faces overstaying charges.

Last month, the US government filed a superseding indictment in the US District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands, against the man after he was arrested in Malaysia.

Vanuatu - funds

Vanuatu's new leader of opposition has raised concerns about a potential misuse of public funds involving MPs.

Gracia Shadrack told the Vanuatu Daily Post some government MPs have received payments from the state on multiple occasions on top of their salaries.

He said the practice of accepting multiple incomes from the state is not on.

"Evidence collected by the Opposition indicates that, in addition to the allowance already provided by the state for their parliamentary positions, certain MPs have also been issued further cheque payments by the Parliament Finance Section for additional Parliamentary positions they hold," he said.

Shadrack said the opposition is in the process of gathering more information on this matter and intends to seek legal advice to determine the appropriate course of action.

Pacific - aid

A new report by World Vision reveals only five percent of global aid targets children.

This is despite children making up close to half of aid-receiving populations.

World Vision New Zealand's National Director Grant Bayldon said New Zealand's aid contribution should particularly be more child-focused, with at least half the population in the Pacific region under 23.

He said the New Zealand government could make an immediate difference by increasing its aid spending to 0.5 per cent of its Gross National Income, up from where it currently sits at 0.23 per cent.

Tokelau - government

Tokelau has a new Ulu-o-Tokelau, or head of government, Alipati Tavite.

He replaced Kelihiano Kalolo.

The new ulu is visiting all the atolls.

Cook Islands - ambassador

Vietnam's ambassador to the Cook Islands, Van Trung Nguyen, has presented his letters of credence to the King's representative.

He is in Rarotonga for a series of engagements, including meetings with senior government officials and the private sector, aimed at deepening co-operation between the two countries.

Ambassador Nguyen met with Cook Islands Foreign Secretary Tepaeru Herrmann, where the two discussed possible forward co-operation in trade, agriculture, fisheries and in the multilateral space.

The Cook Islands established diplomatic relations with Vietnam in April 2022.

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