Monday, april 15, 2013 cook Islands News
regionalNEWS nuti no TE pA ENuA
Front petitions for return to democracy Consultations deadline shifted, PIF concerned at latest actions SUVA – The Fiji regime has extended its deadline for submissions on its draft constitution yet again. As its consultation efforts continue, an opposition group is launching a petition for an immediate return to democracy. regime leader Commodore Frank Bainimarama says peo-
ple have “warmly accepted” the draft which replaces the dumped document drawn up by the Constitution Commission. He says people want some aspects clariied but there’s been an “overwhelmingly positive response”. The regime plans more public meetings and radio talkback
paciic BRIEFS MASS ESCAPE FROM PNG PRISON PAPUA NEW GUINEA – Twenty one prison escapees are on the run in Papua New Guinea, prompting police to warn residents to take caution. Police say 41 prisoners dashed for freedom from Buimo prison in Lae and one was shot dead during the police chase. Nineteen other prisoners were apprehended with the assistance of the corrections staf. PNG Village reports the escapees include remandees and criminals and are deemed a dangerous threat to communities in the Province. Police are now appealing to the public to come forward with more information about the 21 who are now on the run.
ISLANDERS wANT TO OwN RESERVES RAPU NUI – A Rapa Nui elder says if reserves are established around her island her people must own them. Pew Environment Group’s Kermadec Initiative hosted a group from Rapa Nui or Easter Island, French Polynesia and chile looking to New Zealand for expertise on how to protect their ocean resources. The trip has been described as an opportunity for the indigenous delegates to see how iwi have been able to negotiate with the government. But Jacqueline Rapu Tuki says indigenous people should get the beneit of marine reserves. “Here in New Zealand the government owns the reserve. What we’d like to see on Rapa Nui is that the Rapa Nui own the reserve.” Rapu Tuki says a marine reserve would be very important for Rapa Nui’s identity but also for the rest of the world.
FAMILY SAFETY LAwS APPLAUDED SAMOA – A women’s group is applauding the passing into law of Samoa’s Family Safety bill, saying it complements other work being done to protect victims of family violence and sexual abuse. The bill, passed by parliament last month, gives more power to police, health oicials and educators to help afected families, especially women and children. Papali’i Dr Viopapa Annandale of the PanPaciic and Southeast Asia Women’s Association says a number of studies indicate the level of violence in Samoa is still too high. She says the legislation is long overdue, yet a step in the right direction. “The Family Safety Bill has just been passed and so will be implemented presumably immediately, where it will provide protection orders for women and criminalise some of the violence abusive activities that were going on. So we are gradually getting better and stronger legal protections for women and girls.”
REGIME BOSS IN PNG FOR STATE VISIT PAPUA NEW GUINEA– Fiji’s regime leader Voreqe Bainimarama arrived in Papua New Guinea yesterday to begin a four-day state visit to the country. PNG received him with a guard of honour and he was hosted at a state dinner by his counterpart Prime Minister Peter O’Neil. Bainimarama will be the chief guest at a PNG-Fiji Business Council breakfast today and hold bilateral talk with O’Neil. Tomorrow he will open the Fiji trade mission to PNG before sharing a “light moment with Sir Michael Somare over a cup of tea in the afternoon”, FBC reports. On Thursday, Bainimarama jets out of PNG for other oicial engagements overseas.
PARTIES DENY ALLEGATIONS OF FRAUD FIJI – The Proposed National Federation Party in Fiji has denied allegations of anomalies in their registration. Party executive Raman Pratap Singh says they are preparing a response as requested by the Registrar of Political Parties. Singh has not commented much but has denied all allegations of fraud leveled against his party and says they will ile their response to the registrar by Friday. Meanwhile, the proposed Social Democratic Liberal Party says they will also be iling in their response before the deadline on Friday. Both proposed parties have been asked to explain alleged claims of fraudulent impersonation regarding the registration of its members.
ExTENDED wET SEASON CAUSES FLOODING PAPUA NEW GUINEA – Heavy rain and lash looding will be experienced mainly in the inland areas as Papua New Guinea faces an extended wet season, according to the national weather oice. Oice director Sam Maiha said the possibility of an extended rainy season up to June was because of a delay in the natural rainfall cycle in the country. He said the wet season would be more intense than usual because the ocean or seas were warmer by 0.5 degrees over the normal sea temperature. “The 0.5 degrees can seem small but in terms of the amount of moisture, it will be signiicant,” He warned people living along river banks or in inland areas to take precautions about possible looding.
shows and wants all submissions now in by the end of this month. But an extra four days for feedback is unlikely to appease the draft’s critics, rNZI reports. At another of its public meetings on the draft this week, the united Front for a Democratic Fiji is to launch its “people’s petition”, calling on people to sign up for an immediate return to democracy. It plans to present the petition to the united Nations, the European union and Fiji’s president and its Military Council. In an attempt to add credibility to the extended constitutional debate, Bainimarama has urged the leaders of the still unregistered political parties to make submissions on the draft instead of criticising
the document. Bainimarama has told a radio talkback show it is time for politicians to show leadership and be part of the constitutional process. Ministers from the pacific Islands Forum (PIF) have told Fiji’s interim government they are “concerned” by its recent actions. During talks in Suva, the ministers also stressed the need for elections, scheduled for next year, to be free and fair. The group said much work had been done but noted that Fiji had failed to stick to an agreed “roadmap to democracy”. It was the pIF’s first talks with the Fijian regime in Suva since it rejected the Yash Ghai draft constitution and rushed
through its own version. Fiji’s Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum says the revised draft was the focus of Friday’s pIF meeting. “We did say to them or explained to them the reasons for the deviation from the guide draft and the Constituent Assembly and what we are doing now,” he said. “Some critics are saying that the media here is unfair or biased, and we said we don’t tell the media what to write or what to print. “And sometimes it’s not what people write or print, it’s sometimes what they don’t write or print also that’s an issue.” The pIF suspended Fiji in 2009 after prime Minister Frank Bainimarama failed to honour a vow to hold elections that year.
New Zealand had helped fund Fiji’s Constitutional Commission and has offered technical expertise to prepare for the country’s transition from military rule with elections in 2014. N e w Z e a l a n d’s Fo r e i g n Minister, Murray McCully, said the pI F ministers held “very professional constructive discussions” with members of the Fijian Government. “Look, this is a long road, the elections are a long way away, well over a year,” he said. “There is a lot of water to travel under the bridge and we look forward to maintaining our engagement and will be watching the events over the coming days.” Commodore Bainimarama has announced he plans to run in the 2014 elections. - PNC
Indonesian agreement to end pOrT VILA – Vanuatu’s new
prime minister has promised to terminate a defence co-operation agreement with Indonesia and support independence for papua province. The move is one of 68 measures contained in an ambitious 100-day plan for prime minister Moana Carcasses’ new government. The termination of the defence co-operation agreement with Indonesia is item 32 on a 68-point list of what he hopes
to achieve in his irst 100 days in power. Carcasses has also promised support for the Free West papua movement’s bid to become full members of the Melanesian Spearhead Group. T h e p r e v i o u s Va n u a t u government had developed warmer relations with Indonesia and under the soon-to-becancelled defence agreement Indonesia had provided some material support and logistical assistance to the paramilitary
Vanuatu mobile force. Carcasses also wants to hold a special session of parliament to change the constitution to give Vanuatu’s Council of Chiefs a veto power over any laws dealing with customary land. Other items on his 100-day plan include creating a special ministry for climate change and allowing legal action to be taken against political leaders for recovery of misappropriated funds. A complete audit of the Hong
Kong-based Vanuatu residency scheme, under which wealthy Chinese investors could become virtual citizens of Vanuatu, is also proposed. Carcasses replaced Sato Kilman as prime minister, who resigned from ofice in May. He is the first naturalised citizen to become prime minister since Vanuatu gained independence 32 years ago and is the leader of Vanuatu’s Greens party. - ABC
Woman takes on top police post HONIArA – The Solomon Islands police force is being led by a woman for the irst time. Juanita Matanga takes the reins as Acting police Commissioner while Commissioner John Lansley is on leave. She has told radio Australia’s pacific Beat she hopes her appointment will give hope to other women. “I think it’s something that everyone should look upon as opening an avenue for women in the royal Solomon Islands police Force, to look upon as a challenging area that they can
be pursued,” Matanga said. “I think having that opportunity opening up for us women is much easier now, so that if anyone aspired to take on that job, they can work hard to attain that.” Commissioner Matanga is a 23-year veteran of the force. She says the force has gone through changes in that time, and is currently undergoing more shifts as the regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) winds down. “In any developing country you see a lot of changes in so-
ciety, if you’re looking at what we’ve done in the past, it’s quite different in terms of how we see it in today’s policing,” she said. “The concept and principles of policing still remain the same – it’s the techniques of how you apply policing that has changed.” Matanga will be acting in the position until Lansley, whose future role with the force remains uncertain, returns from leave on April 16. - ABC
Acting Police Commissioner Juanita Matanga. ABC
Solomons teachers back at school HONIArA – Solomon Islands
teachers went back to school yesterday after the settlement of a pay dispute that has seen them on strike for two weeks. In negotiations with the Solomon Islands National Teachers Association (SINTA), the Ministry of Education has agreed to meet the striking teachers’ demand for outstanding back pay. Walter Desuitai, SINTA’s general secretary, said many of the
issues that led to the strike action have been resolved. “I would not want to say that we have achieved everything, that we have won the battle here, because we will wait and see the implementation part of it,” he said. “But principally the government has done the right thing in recognising the struggle that SINTA had taken up on behalf of teachers until now.”
Desuitai says the agreement will raise teachers’ pay “one level” in accordance with the teacher’s handbook, which was at the centre of the dispute. He also acknowledged the issue of “ghost teachers”, who are said to be drawing more than one salary from the government payroll. “With the task force that is also part of the agreement they’re going to closely moni-
tor and look into the details of that problem,” he said. Solomon Islands prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo has ordered an urgent inquiry into hundreds of “ghost teachers” on the government payroll. The Ministry of Education believes there are more than 500 teachers on the payroll who do not exist, using more than one name and separate bank accounts. -ABC
Speaker warns MPs may lose seats ApIA – The Speaker of Samoa’s parliament says the conduct of three members of parliament who have been implicated in recent court cases will be investigated by the Legislative Assembly. La’auli Leuatea polata’ivao is quoted by the Samoa Observer
saying that the outcome of the investigation could cost some Mps their seats. The group to be investigated include Muagututagata peter Ah Him, who the Supreme Court found to have misappropriated funds that belong to the Samoa red Cross Society.
The speaker says he has requested a copy of the ruling from the registrar of the courts so he can decide the next step regarding Ah Him. The speaker says the M p Peseta Vaifou Tevaga, who appeared in court earlier this year for negligent driving causing
death, will be investigated. And the Mp Toeolesulusulu Cedric Schuster, who has been charged in connection with a roadblock set up at Satapuala in a demonstration over government’s takeover of land across from Faleolo Airport, will face the assembly. - RNZI
News, Sports and Opinion from the Cook Islands News for Monday, April 15, 2013