NEWS (Melanesia/Pacific) # 676.

1) West Papuan leader killed in Indonesian attack

Updated 6 November 2012, 18:20 AEST

A leader of the Papuan separatist group, the West Papua National Committee – or KNPB – has been reported dead by the group’s chairman.

Victor Yeimo says Paul Horis was killed at the weekend, in an attack Mr Yeimo has blamed on Indonesian special forces; he says another KNPB member was seriously wounded as well.

It’s the latest in a significantly stepped-up campaign against the separatist movement by the Indonesian military.

For a look at the significance of Mr Horis’s death, Corinne Podger spoke to Dr Camellia Webb-Gannon, co-ordinator of the West Papua Project at the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney.

Presenter: Corinne Podger

Speaker: Dr Camellia Webb-Gannon, West Papua Project Coordinator, Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Sydney

WEBB-GANNON: I’m going off reports from Victor Yeimo who is the Chairperson for the KNPB, which is the Indonesian acronym for the West Papua National Committee, that he has been killed. I suppose that’s confirmation that we can rely on at the moment. I think the political significance of Paul Horis’s death is that it continues a concerted pattern, which is evident from October last year, the Indonesian security forces are taking an increasingly hardline and violent approach to the conflict in West Papua. And this is despite contradictory statements from top political leadership in Indonesia that the government, or a dialogue approach will be taken. So it’s quite ironic that President Yudhyono who was in London several days ago to receive an honorary knighthood from the Queen for his alleged efforts to advance democracy in Indonesia, he’s actually stated that he’s open to dialogue in Papua, and that he wants to work on a more development and a Papuan-friendly approach to resolving the issues there. But yet we haven’t really seen any actions to this end, and he’s recently appointed Tito Karnavian, who is a former head of the Australian trained and funded anti-terrorism police squad in Indonesia.So Tito Karnavian was appointed to Police Chief in Papua. So that’s another example of the hardline security approach that’s been taken in Papua. I think the death of Paul Horis just goes to show that violence is increasing from security forces against Papuan activists, not decreasing. This basically shows that the trend isn’t towards trying to work on a development friendly approach, it’s much more get rid of the opposition in any way possible.

PODGER: The Indonesian military has accused other members of the KNPB of making and storing bombs. Now I know you have a personal view on this, you are coming to this from an advocacy background. But is there any evidence that KNPB members are engaged in violent activity that might give credence to those accusations?

WEBB-GANNON: The KNPB activists in the Highlands in Papua, don’t really have access to the types of explosives and to the types of materials that were necessary for making those.

PODGER: The Indonesian military has said though that it has found bombs in the possession of KNPB members. Your response to that?

WEBB-GANNON: Is that, it’s not the first time that the Indonesian military has planted weapons on independence activists to try and make them look violent, to try and make them look militant, so that it advances their own position in West Papua. And I can see that this could easily be another example of that.

PODGER: That would be a speculative view on your part?

WEBB-GANNON: It’s all speculative but.

JOURNO: I mean there is violence on both sides in the West Papua conflict, and so I ask the question again, are you aware of any evidence that KNPB members are engaged in that?

WEBB-GANNON: I’m not, I know that KNPB is committed to a philosophy and action of non-violent resistance. The KNPB members are also aware that violence in the face of the incredibly powerful Indonesian forces would be a waste of effort and this is what they’ve stated time and time again, and they’ve also said that they know that the international community is going to be much more likely to support them in their efforts to achieve independence and to achieve a referendum if they are committed to non-violence. So this is their professed position. I have yet to hear of any credible evidence that KNPB is involved in any violent action, but of course there have been allegations from the Indonesian military and police side that they have.

PODGER: The death of Mr Horis is against the backdrop of an increased campaign by Indonesian special forces against the KNPB, significantly in recent months, what is driving this escalation do you think?

WEBB-GANNON: I would say that they’re worried about how powerful KNPB actually is. So the KNPB was formed in late-2008 to support the international parliamentarians for West Papua and the international lawyers for West Papua. So these were international groups of concerned politicians and lawyers who wanted to figure out different ways of supporting West Papuans in achieving either peaceful justice or independence. And some Papuan students got together and decided we’re going to form a bit of a solidarity group in West Papua. Now this group has become increasingly popular, it’s got widespread popular support, it’s got grassroots, not just elite participation, and they’ve also got incredibly sophisticated and powerful opponents on their side. So famous lawyers, famous politicians, just great international networks. So I think this is causing increasing concern amongst Indonesian politicians and Indonesian security forces that the KNPB is a powerful force, and is bringing the international spotlight onto the movement, which is the last thing that Indonesia wants.

PODGER: As it stands Camellia, under international law though it is very difficult for the situation to change substantively, to look ahead to a time when it might be different. What’s your view on that?

WEBB-GANNON: I think international law does provide certain opportunities but it’s also for the situation to change. If you look at the situation of Kosovo and East Timor, you can see precedents under which territories that were speculated would never become independent did become independent. I think that there’s a possibility that West Papua if the conflict becomes increasingly bloody might have the international backing that it needs in order to perhaps change international on their favour and possibly introduce a referendum. But this would need to happen in the next couple of years. I mean it would really need to happen while SBY is still in power because he is definitely the more democratic of the future choices for leadership in Indonesia and also the rate that the population is changing in West Papua is not in favour of indigenous Papuans. And so if there was a referendum the transmigrational rate of other areas, with Indonesians coming from other areas of Indonesia to settle in Papua, if a referendum was held this probably would not go in favour of West Papuans who want an independent West Papuan state.

http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/radio/program/pacific-beat/west-papuan-leader-killed-in-indonesian-attack/1042132

2) Australian South Sea Islanders Celebrate 150th Anniversary
Colonial plantation workers’ descendants commemorate history

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Nov. 5, 2012) – The Australian South Sea Islanders Secretariat welcomes the news this week that Australia Post has agreed to a request from Queensland Multicultural Affairs Minister, Glen Elmes, to issue a pre-stamped envelope to mark the 150th anniversary in 2013 of the arrival of the first South Seas Islanders (ASSIs) in Australia.

“This is a significant historical anniversary for their Australian descendants,” spokeswoman for the Secretariat, Ms. Nasuven Enares said. “Our people are encouraged by efforts by Government to promote greater public awareness of the role our families played in the development of Queensland. Ultimately regulated by contract, their labor contributed greatly to the development of the sugar and other pastoral industry in Queensland and northern New South Wales.”

Ms. Enares added. “The public is still generally little aware of the real story of ASSIs. Our aim is to promote social inclusion through a combination of group work, community development and community education.”

“Ethnically and culturally our community is distinct from Aboriginal people, from Torres Strait Islanders and Pacific immigrants arriving after 1904. Our people are Australian descendants of the 62,000 Pacific Islanders from those colonial times, known for their strength and reliability in hard work, recognized especially in the Tweed area, where some applied entrepreneurial skill in successful banana plantations, small cropping and fishing. Their contribution to these industries in turn created employment for all Australians.

“Australian South Sea Islander groups are encouraged to take an active part in the development of events and activities related to the 150th anniversary. Local ASSI organizations will be invited formally to be involved in the design of the pre-stamped envelope that will be distributed right across the country, providing national recognition for a century and a half of Australian South Sea Islander culture.”

The Secretariat also looks forward to the Government’s announcement of other concrete initiatives to mark the 150th anniversary.

Vanuatu Daily Post: http://www.vanuatudaily.com

3) 90 percent of businesses in PNG owned by foreigners

By Online Editor
3:08 pm GMT+12, 06/11/2012, Papua New Guinea

Despite a paltry 10 per cent of businesses in Papua New Guinea nationals’ hands and 60 per cent of people solely relying on the informal sector, there is potential for top scale production if the issue of localisation of businesses and land tenure is taken seriously and the prevalent micro enterprise businesses are managed better.

This is from Dr Yunxian Wang, a Senior Research Fellow at the National Research Institute’s (NRI) Economic Policy Research Program – Wealth Creation Pillar.

“My study has been developed with this issue of business localisation in mind and production management but it is related to the land when we go through it.

“The localisation of business has been the concern even before Independence and through the Vision 2050, the government and people are still concerned that only 10 percent of businesses actually are in the hands of PNG nationals,” she said during a media/stakeholder workshop at the Loloata Island Resort recently.

Dr Wang said that top scale production could only be realised through several ways such as commercial plantations, commercial farming, and through the adoption of the more prevalent Asian style of business called contract farming.

She said that contract farming was practised widely in Asia and this system provided huge market access, reduced risks for producers and provided expansion and financial support. It stressed that registration of ILGs could be one form of support and co-operatives could be another, but the latter from studying historic literature on co-operatives was not viable when taking into consideration PNG’s cultural elements.

Dr Wang told media workshop participants at Loloata that the non-existence of a wholesale system in the informal sector had also hampered full scale production and a professionalised trading, marketing and logistics system to improve micro enterprises in the country.

She said that one sample survey of the informal sector indicated that 60 percent of people solely relied on the informal sector; however, this status quo could be lifted to 90 percent. Another baseline survey done by Small Business Development Corporation (SBDC) last year showed that only 11,554 micro, small and medium enterprises existed.

“Among these 8500 are micro businesses – micro business means less than five people employed in one unit – more than 2000 are small enterprises, and only 100 medium enterprises ware owned by nationals.

So you can see that across the whole country the majority are still micro enterprises, while this country’s full of land, uncultivated land – and there’s a shortage of supply in fresh produce. Imported fresh products and also the women’s backyard gardening in urban areas also fills this large gap of the supply of fresh products to urban centres,” she said.

Dr Wang’s study concentrates on informal traders – the linkages between rural production and urban conceptionand the constraints and potential they have to develop from this informal sector into small or even medium enterprises.

Her data collected reflects on land and production and her survey on 244 women informal traders in six markets in Port Moresby.
SOURCE: POST COURIER/PACNEWS

4) China, PNG pledge to boost cooperation

By Online Editor
08:47 am GMT+12, 06/11/2012, Papua New Guinea China and Papua New Guinea agreed Sunday to step up bilateral cooperation in various fields.

The pledge was made during a meeting between senior Chinese legislator Zhou Tienong and Papua New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.

Zhou, deputy chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), said the two countries have broad prospects for reciprocal cooperation, given the fact that they share similar positions on political affairs, have a highly complementary economy and could learn from each other culturally.

He said the NPC is ready to work with its counterpart to let the parliamentary exchanges play an important role in boosting bilateral ties.

O’Neill said his country highly values its relations with China and regard Beijing as an important cooperation partner.

“We are pleased to see that the bilateral ties have developed smoothly and economic and trade cooperation has been advanced steadily,” said the prime minister, who visited China this September.

Papua New Guinea, he said, is willing to strengthen bilateral exchanges and cooperation with China in all fields.

Zhou left Beijing on Oct. 28 to visit Australia and Papua New Guinea at the invitation of the two countries’ parliaments.

SOURCE: XINHUA/PACNEWS

5) Ok Tedi Board Chairman ‘Not Welcome’ In PNG
PM slams professor’s comments as ‘undermining’ leadership

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Nov. 5, 2012) – Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has told the chairman of the Ok Tedi Mine Ltd. Board, Professor Ross Garnaut, that he is not welcome in Papua New Guinea.

Mr. O’Neill said during Grievance Debate in Parliament on Friday that Prof. Garnaut who was former chairman of PNG Sustainable Development Program (PNGSDP) was undermining the leadership and the people of Papua New Guinea.

The Prime Minister, who has recently called on the BHP Billiton mining company to review its position on how it manages PNGSDP on behalf of the people of PNG, was aggrieved by comments by Prof. Garnaut during the handing over of the chairmanship.

Mr. O’Neill said the comments he made was undermining the political leadership and the people of this country.

“Let me quote that he goes on to say that ‘naturally, with such accumulation of wealth in a poor country, it is very tempting for political figures to think of better ways of using it right now rather than putting it into long-term development.’”

Mr. O’Neill said nobody alluded to the fact that the government wanted to use the money right now.

“Nobody told BHP or Ross Garnaut that this was a fact. I will put him on notice that he is no longer welcome to this country,” the Prime Minister said.

“He can stay out of Papua New Guinea and conduct himself. I want to put it on record in this parliament that we will not tolerate people of such standing coming in and disrespecting leaders of this country. I am aggrieved by the fact because he has no care, he thinks that he is above everybody and he is not accountable to anybody.

“I want to put it on record that he will be no longer welcome in this country until BHP surrenders that control of PNGSDP to the government and people of Papua New Guinea. We will maintain that position,” Prime Minister O’Neill said. He said PNGSDP was designed when BHP exited the country due to environmental and many other issues.

“However, looking back now 10-years later we ask ourselves, did we get a better deal. It is perceived that the mine was given to the PNG government and the government now owns it 100 percent.

“Do we really control that mine or not? Has it delivered to the expectations of our people, particularly the people of Western Province?” Mr. O’Neill said a few days ago, he mentioned publicly that it is time that BHP review its position on how it manages PNGSDP on behalf of the people of Papua New Guinea.

“What have they delivered? We have given them a blanket cover, blanket insurance, protection from this Parliament that we will never sue them for the damage they have caused to our people,” Mr. O’Neill said. “We have seen many big announcements about major projects that will change the course of this country over the past 10 years and yet we have yet to see one of those projects being delivered.”

Mr. O’Neill said BHP does not want to come back to PNG but are running PNGSDP by remote control from Melbourne.

“For them PNG is not an investment destination, but why do they try and continue to run these organizations for and on behalf of the people of this country by remote control from a place called Melbourne in Australia by directors who do not live in Papua New Guinea, by directors who do not know what we need in this country? They don’t know what our people’s daily lives are, but they continue to dictate the management of these particular organization.”

PNG Post-Courier: http://www.postcourier.com.pg/

6) Statistics show Talasea has the highest HIV/AIDS rate in PNG

By Online Editor
1:00 pm GMT+12, 06/11/2012, Papua New GuineaStatistics show Talasea district has the highest HIV/AIDS infection rate in West New Britain.

This was revealed yesterday by the provincial minister for health and HIV/AIDS and Mosa local level government president, Daka Wakai.

Wakai said provincial HIV/AIDS data from 1996 to 2012 showed 316 cases of HIV/AIDS infection, with a prevalence rate of 06 %.

Of the 316 cases, there were 81 confirmed cases from the Mosa local level government in Talasea.

He said this area was populated with oil palm settlers and that saw more cash flow there.

“As such, we are looking at scaling up VCT  (volunteering counselling  and testing) services in those strategic areas but integrated into normal health programmes,” he said.

Wakai said West New Britain was a province of major economic boom with the oil palm industry and had experienced high population mobility.

He said there was overcrowding in settlements and rural-urban drift that had resulted in the lack of employment for youths, increased drug and alcohol abuse and sex work.

Wakai said all that had contri¬buted to the increased HIV/AIDS rates on the north coast of Talasea.

He said the provincial administration was behind the provincial AIDS council and planned on mobilising greater political support in the fight against the disease in the province.

“This is one area lacking and we request that from our political leaders,” he said.

Wakai said there was a need for their leaders to support with resources under their District Services Improvement Programme funds to enable the district AIDS committees to function at the Talasea district

SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS

7) Solomon Islands PM receives constituency funding from Taiwan

By Online Editor
12:58 pm GMT+12, 06/11/2012, Solomon IslandsThe Solomon Islands Prime Minister, Gordon Darcy Lilo has received nearly SBD$10m (US$1.39 million) from the Republic of China (ROC) as part of its second payment to support Solomon Islands constituencies.

The Taiwanese Embassy released the SBD$9.6 million, after it received acquittal reports from 32 constituencies of the first funding from the Ministry of Rural Development a few week ago.

Ambassador Wu said the remaining SBD$5.4 million (US$751, 800) will be released later upon submission of the 18 acquittal reports from the rest of the constituencies.

Prime Minister Lilo in thanking Ambassador Wu on-behalf of the Taiwanese Government says the Republic of China funding is very important as it goes down to the rural people of Solomon Islands.

There are three installment payments for 2012 ROC Funding. They include ROC Support to Constituency Development, ROC Constituency Micro-Project Fund and Millennium Development Fund.
SOURCE: SOLOMON TIMES ONLINE/PACNEWS

8) Vanuatu MOU points to new Kilman government

By Online Editor
3:21 pm GMT+12, 06/11/2012, VanuatuThere are more signs that Vanuatu’s caretaker Prime Minister Sato Kilman is consolidating support for a coalition government with a reported Memorandum of Understanding between ten parties.

The Daily Post reports that the parties include Kilman’s People’s Progressive Party and the National United Party, both of which appear to have secured six of the 52 seats in parliament based on provisional results from last week’s general election.

The other parties in the coalition are small, made up of no more than three MPs.

They include all but two of the ministers in the Kilman-led coalition government which ruled for most of the last two years.

The other main grouping trying to form a government is based around the Vanua’aku Pati, which has secured at least eight seats, the Union of Moderate Parties with six, and the Ground and Justice Party which has three.

However, the Electoral Commission says results being circulated are subject to change, pending the release of official results.

Several election petitions are being lodged amid allegations about election fraud, voter bribing and that some parties abused the proxy vote process to get MPs re-elected.

SOURCE: RNZI/PACNEWS

9) Vanuatu women’s call to probe alleged election corruption

Posted at 05:24 on 06 November, 2012 UTC

A candidate in last week’s election in Vanuatu is calling on women’s organisations to investigate allegations of corruption that prevented women being elected.

With the official results to be released tomorrow, none of the 10 women who stood has been voted into parliament.

Jenny Ligo, who stood in the Port Vila constituency, says while she believes the women ran a clean campaign, there have been allegations of bribery to stop women candidates being supported.

“Some of the politicians, they pay the whole community to vote for a certain man politician. It’s something that people know about. And some of the women are threatened – if you vote for this woman, we are going to chase you out from the village, or they will do something to them.”

Jenny Ligo says she has called on UN Women and the department of women’s affairs to do an evaluation of the whole election.

Radio New Zealand International

10) Fiji’s PM clashes with Constitutional Commission

Updated 6 November 2012, 19:07 AEST

Fiji’s PM says he is committed to free and fair elections, while Fiji’s Constitutional Commission insists it is impartial.

File photo: Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama (L) says former Vice President Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi (R) should no longer work for the commission.

File photo: Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama (L) says former Vice President Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi (R) should no longer work for the commission. (Credit: AFP)

The chair of Fiji’s Constitutional Commission, Yash Ghai, has angered the country’s prime minister, Frank Bainimarama, by saying he doubted the election scheduled for 2014 would be free and fair.

Earlier this week the commission was criticised for allowing one of its consultants – the prominent lawyer and politician Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi – to present his own submission to the Commission during the public hearing process.

Prof Ghai defended Mr Ratu Joni’s impartiality on Radio Australia’sPacific Beat program.

“The submission was made by the community within which he lives, but he did not actually present it and there’s no reason to say he supports it,” Prof Ghai said.

‘Worrying changes’

Changes have now been made to the decree under which the Commission operates, reportedly in response to Commodore Bainimarama’s “disappointment” over the alleged conflict of interest.

The commission is now required to to publish the names and salaries of all its staff and consultants.

Prof Ghai says the time period for the public to assess the draft constitution before it is put to parliament has been reduced to a week, and that the power to examine existing laws that might not be compatible with the draft Constitution has been removed.

“I don’t see how Fiji is going to have free and fair elections unless these decrees are cleaned up,” he told the program.

Leader’s response

Following the Pacific Beat interview, Commodore Bainimarama issued a statement insisted that nothing would get in the way of his commitment to hold a free and fair election in 2014.

“This constitution is not for the government, as Prof Ghai appears to be believe. Nor is it for the self -gratification of the Chairman of the Commission. It is for the Fijian people and the process of formulating it needs to be transparent,” Commodore Bainimarama said.

“It is a pity that he thinks that formulating a constitution after country-wide consultations that upholds unassailable democratic principles is difficult,” he said, adding: “And his claim that I have been harassing him is totally without foundation.”

http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/international/2012-11-06/fijis-pm-clashes-with-constitutional-commission/1041682

11) Fiji Constitution To Be Drafted Without Public Consultation
Constituency Assembly will make decisions over initial draft

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Nov. 5, 2012) – Fiji’s Government has ruled out any public consultation on the draft Constitution which is expected to be ready next month.

This follows amendments to the Fiji Constitutional Process (Constitution Commission) decree with the phrase “or the hearing of views on the draft Constitution” being removed.

Attorney General and Minister for Elections, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum denied the changes stem from Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi’s capacity as a former consultant for the Constitution Commission.

Rather, he told FijiLive the amendment was done because the Commission had traveled quite widely throughout Fiji and had received a significant number of submissions directly from the public.

“The whole intention is that once the draft is put together by the Constitution Commission with the explanatory note then it goes up to the His Excellency the President of Fiji and the President will then put it to the Constituent Assembly,” Sayed-Khaiyum said. “The Constituent Assembly is made up of Fijians who represent different sectional groups in Fiji whether be it women’s organization or maritime authorities and that is where they will debate the draft Constitution and then it will be put together by the Constituent Assembly.”

He called for the five-member Commission to declare Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi’s salary during his term as a consultant.

“Before the Decree was amended, it clearly stated that there needs to be an audited account of the Commission as the provision was there. Now the amendment to the Decree says that there should now be a publication of the Commission’s account made public on a monthly basis for the few months that is left for the Commission,” Sayed-Khaiyum said.

Sections 7, 10 and 12 of Decree No. 64 have been amended.

[PIR editor’s note: Meanwhile, Commission Chairman Yash Ghai has hit out against criticism for retaining Ratu Joni, saying Ratu Joni was not paid on the day he reportedly participated in a comment submission before the commission. Ratu Joni also told the commission he intended on making a claim before the submission date. The government, however, maintains Ratu Joni’s consultancy was a breach of the decree establishing the non-negotiable principles guiding the commission’s workFiji’s Citizen’s Constitutional Forum has expressed support for Ratu Joni, who they claim is being targeted by the regime.]

Fijilive: http://www.fijilive.com

12) ,300 Suspicious Voter Registrations Revealed In Fiji
Elections office to contact individuals to rectify concerns

By Indrani Krishna

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Nov. 5, 2012) – Fiji’s first phase of the Electronic Voter Registration (EVR) revealed more than 1,000 “suspicious registrations.”

Minister for Elections Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum called on all Fijians to double check their details when the second phase starts this Saturday.

Sayed-Khaiyum said after a clean-up, 1,300 registrations did not check out. He highlighted an example where a Fijian registered 10 times in different centers and in different colored shirts.

He said the concerned people will be contacted by the EVR clerks and the Elections Office to rectify and confirm their details.

The second phase of EVRs is for four weeks till December 7, 2012.

The first two weeks will be in urban centers before it will move to rural centers on November 26.

Sayed-Khaiyum said this will be a good opportunity for citizens who have registered during the first phase to clarify their details. After the cleanup, the registration numbers now stand at 488,000, of which 240,000 are women.

Permanent Secretary for Elections Mere Vuniwaqa said that not all 1,150 EVR centers will be open in the urban areas.

Vuniwaqa said only specific centers will be opened and the public will be advised on these centers on November 7 via the media.

Fijilive: http://www.fijilive.com

13) Fiji’s 2014 poll rules hint

By Online Editor
3:23 pm GMT+12, 06/11/2012, FijiFiji’s  Minister for Elections and Attorney-General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, says the 2014 General Elections will be different.

He said changes would include the number of political parties contesting the elections, the grounds of forming a political party, the criteria of selecting politicians to contest the elections, and time span for the elections.

“These are some of the regulations that we will look at as we are trying to facilitate the democratic process by ensuring that we have the electoral roll that is fully representation of all Fijians who are eligible to vote,” Sayed-Khaiyum said.

He said transparency was required so that people had an idea of who they could vote for.

A threshold is also included in the regulations which will require politicians and political parties to declare their assets and all background information.

“We are looking at all methods of improving the elections. It is in the interest of political parties that their supporters and officials are all registered.”

He said only those who were registered would be able to vote and contest the elections.

“We need to know their assets and what are they and who are they so that the voters know their background and know the people they will vote.”

While preparations for the elections are underway, Sayed-Khaiyum said new regulations could also put a ceiling on political parties contesting.

“At the moment there are 16 officially registered political parties in Fiji. Some of them are not operating, some of them formed by one person, some formed by families, some by friends and some formed and die out again.

“We need to clean all these up and follow the regulation and the minimum threshold.”

He said other changes could include reducing the number of days to hold the elections, the use of new ballot boxes made of other materials instead of timber.

He said the new ballot boxes would be hard to be tampered with. The old boxes are now infested with termites.

Another change would be the counting of ballot papers in voting centres in isolated areas instead of bringing all the boxes to main counting centres, an advertising blackout prior to the election and supply of information to the public using the media.

He also reiterated that the elections would still be held in 2014.

Meanwhile, Fiji is turning its back on the divisions and instability of the past. This was the message of Prime Minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama to the returnees and guests at the 40th anniversary Monday of Mana Island Resort and Spa.

While officially opening the week-long celebrations, Commodore Bainimarama said the Government was “building a solid foundation for the future- a new and better Fiji.

“We have had to make some tough decisions and have sometimes paid a high price for pursuing our vision,” he said.

“Some of our neighbours – at government level and in unions – haven’t understood or don’t want to understand, have spread misinformation and have tried to punish Fiji.

“But the ordinary men and women … have seen through this agenda and have continued to engage with us, to support us.”

Commodore Bainimarama stressed that despite the misgivings at political levels, the bonds between Fijian people and guests can never be broken.

“We are forging One Nation in which all Fijians have an equal stake and which provides and viable and stable future for our children.

“I make no apologies for this because a just, modern and vibrant Fiji is the only way forward.”

SOURCE: FIJI SUN/PACNEWS

14) No public consultation on Fiji’s draft Constitution, Clean up reveals 1K ineligible registrations

By Online Editor
08:56 am GMT+12, 06/11/2012, FijiFiji’s Government has ruled out any public consultation on the draft Constitution which is expected to be ready next month.

This follows amendments to the Fiji Constitutional Process (Constitution Commission) decree with the phrase “or the hearing of views on the draft Constitution” being removed.

Attorney General and Minister for Elections, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum denied the changes stem from Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi’s capacity as a former consultant for the Constitution Commission.

Rather, he told FijiLive the amendment was done because the Commission had traveled quite widely throughout Fiji and had received a significant number of submissions directly from the public.

“The whole intention is that once the draft is put together by the Constitution Commission with the explanatory note then it goes up to the His Excellency the President of Fiji and the President will then put it to the Constituent Assembly,” Sayed-Khaiyum said.

“The Constituent Assembly is made up of Fijians who represent different sectional groups in Fiji whether be it women’s organisation or maritime authorities and that is where they will debate the draft Constitution and then it will be put together by the Constituent Assembly.”

He called for the five-member Commission to declare Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi’s salary during his term as a consultant.

“Before the Decree was amended, it clearly stated that there needs to be an audited account of the Commission as the provision was there. Now the amendment to the Decree says that there should now be a publication of the Commission’s account made public on a monthly basis for the few months that is left for the Commission,” Sayed-Khaiyum said.

Sections 7, 10 and 12 of Decree No. 64 have been amended.

Meanwhile, Fiji’s first phase of the Electronic Voter Registration revealed more than 1000 “suspicious registrations.”

Minister for Elections Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum called on all Fijians to double check their details when the second phase starts this Saturday.

Sayed-Khaiyum said after a clean-up, 1300 registrations did not check out. He highlighted an example where a Fijian registered 10 times in different centres and in different coloured shirts.

He said the concerned people will be contacted by the EVR clerks and the Elections Office to rectify and confirm their details.

The second phase of EVRs is for four weeks till December 7, 2012. The first two weeks will be in urban centres before it will move to rural centres on November 26 Sayed-Khaiyum said this will be a good opportunity for citizens who have registered during the first phase to clarify their details.

After the cleanup, the registration numbers now stand at 488,000, of which 240,000 are females.

Permanent Secretary for Elections Mere Vuniwaqa said that not all 1150 EVR centres will be open in the urban areas.

Vuniwaqa said only specific centres will be opened and the public will be advised on these centres on 07 November via the media.

SOURCE: FIJI LIVE/PACNEWS

15) Fiji regime slaps down Constitution Commission chair

Posted at 05:45 on 06 November, 2012 UTC

The Fiji interim government has accused the Constitution Commission chair Professor Yash Ghai of trying to hijack the Constituent Assembly process.

Professor Ghai said earlier the regime lost enthusiasm for the constitution-making body after dropping plans for a public discussion of the draft constitution.

Commodore Bainimarama also criticised the Commission for engaging a prominent lawyer and deposed Vice-President Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi as a consultant.

The Commodore says he is not harassing Professor Ghai, but says in a statement that there will be ample scope for public discussion once the Constituent Assembly starts its deliberations.

He says Professor Ghai needs to comprehend that his function is to produce a Constitution and submit it to the President and that is where his job ends.

The interim Prime Minister says Professor Ghai seemed not to grasp the interim government’s concerns about the Commission’s decision to appoint Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi as a consultant.

He says Ratu Joni was not impartial because he was part of a delegation that called for a Christian state, which contravenes one of the regime’s non-negotiable principles.

Radio New Zealand International

16) Ghai unsettled by Fiji regime changes to constitution plan

Posted at 05:45 on 06 November, 2012 UTC

Fiji’s Constitution Commission chairman Professor Yash Ghai says recent changes to the plan for a new constitution are a very serious variation from the agreement made with the regime.

The interim government has made amendments to the decree on the constitutional process, which do away with public discussion of the draft constitution.

Instead it will go straight to a yet to be formed regime-appointed Constituent Assembly for debate.

The interim government says there has already been opportunity for public comment during the submission process but Professor Ghai says the original plan would have given the public a chance to react to a concrete set of proposals.

He says the late changes are not fair.

“Commissioners joined the process on the basis of certain rules and procedures, institutions. We were able to persuade people to come and talk to us, share their experiences and views on the strength that this was an independent process.”

Professor Ghai says he personally has not lost enthusiasm for the process and Fiji people deserve the best constitution the commission can draft.

Radio New Zealand International

17) 40 Cook Islanders May Seek Seasonal Work In Australia
Islanders may land jobs at Queensland meat processing plant

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, Nov. 5, 2012) – As many as 40 Cook Islanders are expected to seek seasonal work at an Australian meat processing plant when Food Safety Operations Queensland sends a recruiter to the island later this month.

A company director, Wayne Herrod, says it has had links with the Cook Islands for six years with 55 Cook Islanders taking up jobs in that time.

The workers have to pay for their own airfares to Australia but the company will help them find accommodation.

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

18) National Kiribati Airline May Renew Dropped Regional Flights
Improved domestic service needed first, says CEO

AUCKLAND, New Zealand (The Kiribati Independent, Nov. 5, 2012) – Kiribati’s national airline, Air Kiribati Limited is now exploring options to revive the sub regional flights to service routes between Kiribati, Fiji, Marshall Islands and Tuvalu.

Chief Executive Officer of Air Kiribati, Captain Iosabata Namakin told Kiribati Independent correspondent in Tarawa that one of the alternatives is to purchase a medium-sized aircraft to provide this service.

Iosabata says before the airline can re-engage in regional services, it must improve its domestic air services.

This is being done with the first purchase of a Twin Otter from CAAMS of USA. “We expect that improvement works on our domestic air services through the replacement of fleets will be completed in the middle of next year,” Iosabata adds.

CEO also revealed that once upgrading is completed the airline will concentrate then on paper works on purchasing the new aircraft for international air service and ways to compete with Fiji’s Air Pacific.

He says the airline is now looking for a suitable aircraft, which is as big as Air Pacific’s Boeing 737 to enable customers to choose Air Kiribati as the best airline to service flights between Kiribati and the neighboring Pacific islands.

Government’s plan to re-commence international air services was first revealed by the Minister of Transport, Taberannang Timeon during the last parliament meeting.

Previously, Kiribati partnered with Nauru on Our Airline providing air service between Kiribati, Nauru and Fiji. The airline is no longer servicing routes to Fiji leaving Kiribati with only one airline, Air Pacific.

The Kiribati government would like to compete with Air Pacific under its current plan following the closure of Our Airline’s flight to Fiji early this year, and failure of negotiations between the two sides.

The Kiribati Independent

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