Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 805
1) Vanuatu Government Organized Reconciliation With PNG
Deputy PM will not say if ceremony related to Carlot scandal
By Godwin Ligo
PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Feb. 11, 2013) – The Vanuatu Government organized thecustom ceremony which was performed by the Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) of Vanuatu Ham Lini and the DPM of Papua New Guinea (PNG) Leo Dion on Sunday January 27, 2013.
Public Relations Officer (PRO) to the Prime Minister’s Office Jeff Patunvanu said DPM Lini mentioned the custom ceremony to him and it was organized by the Vanuatu government.
“I can confirm that it was organized by the government but Prime Minister Sato Kilman was not able to attend because he was on Malekula. I could not attend too myself because of pressing commitments,” said Patunvanu.
Asked what the custom ceremony was all about, the government PRO said it was a reconciliation ceremony between the two countries relating to recent issues between Port Vila and Port Moresby.
“The Melanesian countries value our traditions and customs and the ways to resolve issues between each other. The custom ceremony that took place at Teouma between the Vanuatu DPM Ham Lini Vanuaroroa and PNG DPM Leo Dion was to reconcile the differences between the two countries or governments which would not be possible to be resolved otherwise,” he said.
Asked if the reconciliation ceremony was specifically in relation to the recent controversial visit of the Vanuatu Foreign Affairs Minister Alfred Carlot to Papua New Guinea, Patunvanu replied that the reconciliation ceremony covered such issues but would not elaborate further.
He referred Daily Post to the Deputy Prime Minister Ham Lini Vanuaroroa. Daily Post approached DPM Office but was told the Deputy PM was not available as he was travelling to Pentecost for the preparations of the Penama Provincial Elections.
His First Political Advisor Clifford Bice told Daily Post he could not comment but referred Daily Post to the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Office.
But the custom ceremony was not part of the MSG program, it was a side event, according to the MSG 25th Jubilee anniversary Chairman Mr. Jean Pierre Nirua.
Mr. Nirua confirmed PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neil responded to the MSG invitation expressing his appreciation for the invitation but could not attend in person because of pressing domestic commitments at home.
He officially nominated Deputy Prime Minister Dion to represent the PNG Government at the launching of the 25th Jubilee anniversary.
Defending his Deputy, PNG PM O’Neil was quoted by Island Business as saying, “The MSG was born in Goroka, Eastern Highlands Province, in 1986 and from the humble beginning it has developed into one of the premier organizations in the Pacific Islands.
“PNG is committed to the MSG and the noble principle on which the organization was started.
“I have officially delegated Mr. Dion to attend the launching of 25th MSG Jubilee anniversary on behalf of the government. I refute the speculations by certain individuals and media organizations that DPM Dion’s trip to Vanuatu breached the travel laws.”
Radio New Zealand reported that the custom reconciliation ceremony with Papua New Guinea Deputy Prime Minister was over the recent controversial visit of Vanuatu Foreign Affairs Minister Alfred Carlot to Papua New Guinea.
A statement by the PNG Opposition carried by PNG Post Courier claims that the trip to Vanuatu by PNG DPM Dion was to apologies over the outburst by Prime Minister Peter O’Neil over the mystery aircraft saga.
The Opposition said that they are baffled by the sudden unannounced departure of Mr. Dion to Vanuatu, saying the trip comes amidst serious controversies surrounding the mysterious aircraft which landed in PNG recently.
“Is it not possible that the DPM is travelling to appease the damage that has been done?” they questioned.
No Vanuatu government officials present at the ceremony shed light on the dialogue exchange during the custom ceremony nor the exact reason.
The local media was not made aware of the Custom reconciliation ceremony at the time it took place at Teouma.
Vanuatu Daily Post: http://www.vanuatudaily.com
2) PNG To Affect ‘Stringent’ New Citizenship Processes
O’Neill says future applications to be scrutinized by 32 ministers
By Jeffrey Elapa
PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Feb. 11, 2013) – A new process for the granting of citizenship in Papua New Guinea will be put in place, Prime Minister Peter O’Neill has told parliament.
“We have to put stringent processes in place so that the process is not abused by the citizenship advisory committee,” he said in response to a question from Northern Governor Gary Juffa in the house last Friday.
Juffa had asked if the government could investigate how Indonesian businessman Djoko Tjandra, alias Joe Chan, was issued a passport and how those people involved in issuing “dubious” citizenships and passports to foreigners would be prosecuted.
O’Neill said that a new law on granting of citizenship would be drawn up by cabinet.
“All future applications will get the scrutiny of the 32 ministers of the cabinet before citizenships and passports are granted,” he said.
O’Neill said he did not have any right to terminate Tjandra’s citizenship which was granted by the Citizenship Board.
The only way to remove Tjandra’s citizenship was if it had been granted “dubiously”.
“We can also hold people accountable and have them disciplined if foul play was involved in the process.”
O’Neill said the Immigration Minister (Rimbink Pato) had cancelled Tjandra’s passport as recommended by the attorney-general and justice department which carried out an investigation.
However, Tjandra had been given citizenship and was entitled to the same rights of all citizens of this country.
“He is still a citizen. He is entitled to that right. I have to allow the process, which would be through the courts, to decide whether there were dubious circumstances involved,” he said.
Tjandra is a wanted man in Indonesia from where he fled in June 2010, a day before he was sentenced to two years jail by the country’s Supreme Court for his involvement in a AU$57 million fraud [US$26.9 million].
Tjandra was granted PNG citizenship last year and changed his name to Joe Chan before applying for a passport.
His passport was cancelled last month but he is challenging the decision.
O’Neill said a ministerial committee comprising Forest Minister Patrick Pruaitch, Finance Minister James Marape and Environment and Conservation Minister John Pundari was appointed to review the decision to cancel Tjandra’s passport.
The National: www.thenational.com.pg/
3) Carr announces new envoy to PNG
By Online Editor
3:50 pm GMT+12, 12/02/2013, Australia
Ian Kemish, who is currently on his sixth and final visit to Bougainville, will vacate the post in March.
A senior career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Deborah Stokes was most recently head of the department’s International Organisation and Legal Division, the Australian High Commission in Port Moresby said in a statement on Tuesday.
She has previously served as Australia’s ambassador to Austria and permanent representative to the United Nations in Vienna, and as Deputy Head of Mission at the Australian Embassy in Tokyo.
Kemish, who spent several years as a schoolboy in PNG, took up the post in 2010 and helped navigate Australian relations with PNG during the tumultuous political crisis of 2011/2012 that briefly left the nation with two prime ministers as well as a failed military mutiny.
Comment is being sought on Kemish’s departure and the appointment of Stokes from PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill.
Australia is Papua New Guinea’s largest aid donor, providing AUD$491.7 million in development assistance in 2012/13. Two-way trade between the countries is worth more than AUD$7 billion a year, with Australian investment in PNG exceeding AUD$16 billion.
SOURCE: THE AUSTRALIAN/PACNEWS
4) We’ll defend Manus to the hilt: PNG
By Online Editor
09:39 am GMT+12, 12/02/2013, Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea’s government will “defend to the hilt” a legal challenge being brought against the Australian-run detention centre on Manus Island.
Lawyers acting on behalf of PNG Opposition Leader Belden Namah are seeking to have the Manus facility declared unconstitutional and will ask the court to temporarily stop asylum seeker transfers until it has made its final decision.
But Attorney-General Kerenga Kua says the government has not been served with any court documents notifying them of the challenge in the Court of Human Rights on Tuesday morning.
“We are informally aware of its existence and of the need for tomorrow’s scheduled mention in court.
Somebody will be attending as a friend of the court to find out what’s going on,” Kua said.
“If we haven’t been served, nothing can happen, it can’t be heard and we want to be heard … we will defend this to the hilt.”
Loani Henaos, of Henaos Lawyers, who is bringing the challenge on behalf of the opposition, says the government was served with the documents on February 2.
“The government’s lawyers have acknowledged that,” he said.
“They have filed a notice of an intention to defend.”
There are 274 detainees at the temporary Manus facility – including more than 30 children – living in conditions that have been widely criticised as inhumane.
Kua has argued the site is legal under the nation’s immigration law, which grants power to the immigration minister to set up a processing facility.
Henaos says that’s unconstitutional.
“The memorandum of understanding between Australia and PNG is unconstitutional on the basis that it allows the PNG government to bring in asylum seekers from a foreign country, and the minute they put their foot on PNG territory, they are arrested,” he said.
“We’re saying every person – whether you’re a national, PNG citizen or a foreigner – when you come into the country you have your personal liberty guaranteed under the constitution.
“They were made to come in and then were arrested”
Kua has in the past rejected the definition of the site as a detention centre.
“We are providing them with a place to live,” he told AAP in January.
“It’s not a detention centre, as people call it.
“There is no law in our country that authorises us to establish a detention centre. But under our migration act, the minister can set up a processing facility.”
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees recently labelled the centre unlawful.
The agency released a damning report on February 4 slamming conditions at the facility – which mostly comprises tents – and called for the transfer of children there to be suspended.
It said the situation was at odds with Australia’s international obligations, and children should not be transferred there until all appropriate legal and administrative safeguards were in place.
Australian Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young, who visited the site in late January, said children were witnessing self-harm and suicide attempts by adults.
The Australian government announced a deal with New Zealand on Saturday to send 150 refugees a year across the Tasman from centres such as Manus and the one on Nauru.
The court hearing is expected to start at 1030 (AEDT) on Tuesday before Justice David Canning in Port Moresby.
5) PNG Police arrested people responsible for killing young woman
By Online Editor
1:45 pm GMT+12, 12/02/2013, Papua New Guinea
Papua New Guinea Police have arrested an undisclosed number of people in relation to the gruesome torture and killing of a young woman accused of sorcery in Mt Hagen last Wednesday.
Assistant police commissioner Teddy Tei said the city would be combed for anyone remotely associated with the killing which has incited outrage both in the country and abroad.
The suspects were questioned yesterday as Tei called a sectional head meeting for a full briefing on the investigation.
Kepari Lanieta, 20, of Paial in Porgera district, Enga, was tortured and burnt alive by a group of men who accused her of the killing of a boy through sorcery.
Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, the US government through its embassy, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Family and Sexual Violence Action Committee and many other leaders have condemned the killing.
According to police yesterday afternoon, many suspects are still at large and police are hunting for them.
A police source said the police investigation unit was now interviewing the suspects and dealing with them.
Many witnesses at the scene of the crime have vo¬lunteered information, the police said, making it possible for police to work around the clock to arrest those still at still at large.
Tei told media personnel yesterday morning the killing was a big issue and police would do their best to have all offenders arrested.
He said the story of the killing was on the internet and many international communities led by the American embassy, United Nations Human Rights office and others condemned the killing.
He said anyone who was not involved in the actual killing but who assisted would be also be arrested and charged.
O’Neill described the killing as “barbaric and inhuman” and directed the police minister to ensure police used all the resources and manpower to bring those responsible to justice.
The US government also called for a sustained international partnership to address this issue throughout Pacific, including through creation and enforcement of anti-gender base violence.
SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS
6) French group eyes fish project in PNG
By Online Editor
4:59 pm GMT+12, 11/02/2013, Papua New Guinea
A French fishing company will spend US$500 million in a fishing project in Papua New Guinea, according to Trade, Commerce and Industry Minister Richard Maru.
He met the representatives from Sapmer-Piriou Joint Venture in Singapore last month.
The joint venture intends to go into a fish-processing facility in PNG.
“Sapmer-Pirious Joint Venture will build a 300m-long fisheries wharf, a value-added tuna processing plant, a 400m dry dock and a shipyard,” Maru said.
“The total cost of their investment is about US$500 million.
“The company has expressed strong interest to lease land at the Pacific Marine Industrial Zone (PMIZ, in Madang).
“Negotiations are being finalised for a project agreement to be signed between the project promoter and the state.”
Maru said this was important, given the duty-free access market into the European Union market for PNG canned tuna and tuna loins, with the project expected to employ about 2,500 people.
“I am very supportive and keen on this project and have proposed to the investors to also include a shipbuilding yard as the first in the country and to teach our people on new trades,” he said.
“The company has shipbuilding operations in Vietnam and Nigeria and I’m insisting that similar operations be merged with the fish-processing plant.”
Maru said the company must also include a waste management processing facility in its plant to avoid environmental damage.
He said the project, when implemented, would be the anchor investment project at PMIZ.
Meanwhile, local leaders have questioned an agreement between the main plaintiffs of the Pacific Marine Industrial Zone project case and Commerce and Industry Minister Richard Maru.
They described the agreement as a “sweet deal” which did not benefit the local communities and other stakeholders.
The local leaders –Mathew Masbud, ward 10 local level government councillor; Alfons Miai, chairman of Rehammb Holdings and Rudolf Ayu, Kananam Investment Ltd board chairman – also asked what sort of benefits were given to the three plaintiffs, Bager Wamm, Francis Gem and Frank Don.
They said in a statement that the two recognised umbrella companies, Rehammb Holdings and Kananam Investment, would not support the project if the minister continued to ignore set structures and policies of handling benefit sharing issues.
It said that Maru ignored them during a meeting last December, which was held without their knowledge.
“We want to know what sort of benefits will be given to them when other members of the community are waiting for theirs,” they said.
“The immediate communities of Madang have the right to know why they were overlooked when the government is trying to please one particular plaintiff from a non-impact area many kilometres away from the project site.
“We call on our Madang leaders, especially Madang MP Nixon Duban, to intervene.
“There must be open dialogue instead of selective appointments of so-called impact community leaders signing away people’s rights in hotels.”
Ayu said the project was volatile and while they wanted it to continue to the implementation stage, “doubts and uncertainty seem to be the order of the day”.
The plaintiffs had indicated during their meeting with Maru that the original court case would only be shelved if they received the “package” promised to them.
SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS
7) In Wake Of Disasters, Solomons May Face Health Crisis
Devastated Temotu province in desperate need of aid
MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, Feb. 11, 2013) – Authorities in the Solomon Islands fear they could soon be dealing with a health crisis in the wake of last week’s deadly earthquake and tsunami.
The Premier of Temotu Province, Charles Brown Beu, says emergency supplies such as rice, water and clothing are beginning to reach those affected by the disaster.
Mr. Beu says the relief effort is being hampered by repeated aftershocks that have rattled the remote Santa Cruz islands since a magnitude 8.0 earthquake triggered a meter-high tsunami last Wednesday.
He told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat many people sheltering in makeshift camps are without water and sanitation.
“What the people need most right now is water because the water source that supplies Lata and the villages around Lata township, that water source was destroyed by the tsunami,” he says.
“Up in the bush there is no water, people have to literally carry water from Lata and other sources around here in containers for cooking, drinking and general washing. In the near future my fear is an outbreak of diarrhea and things like that.”
[PIR editor’s note: Santa Cruz residents have begun to express frustration at the slow response of relief agencies in providing for emergency supplies as of Saturday.]
The confirmed death toll has risen to 10, while more than 3,000 people are squatting in shelters after their homes were destroyed.
“Many of the people that have lost their homes are still gathered up on the hill where there was a temporary camp site set up initially by themselves with the help of the government,” Mr. Beu said.
“They have not been able to go back to their villages because virtually nothing is there, and of course they are still scared.”
The latest aftershock on Monday morning measured 6.3 and was centered 51 kilometers southwest of Lata, at a depth of 35 kilometers, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
One measuring 7.1 on the Richter scale has caused significant damage to Temotu’s only wharf in Lata.
Australia’s High Commissioner to Solomon Islands, Matthew Anderson, told Radio Australia on Monday the aftershocks had been “quite significant.”
“All of these things add up in terms of just additional challenges for the very, very hardy people that are on the ground providing much-needed assistance,” he said.
Australia, NZ aid
The Solomon Islands Government has declared the Santa Cruz Islands a disaster area. Aerial surveys indicate most of the damage is confined to the Lata region.
Australia’s Foreign Minister Bob Carr has visited the region, saying more assistance is needed on the ground.
Senator Carr says Australia will send two AUSAID workers to assess the damage and help coordinate the relief effort.
Australia is also funding a flight to take medical staff to the affected region and to evacuate severely injured people for treatment in Honiara.
Senator Carr says Australia is standing by to help the Solomons in the recovery process.
“The people of the Solomons are a very resilient, hardy people,” he said.
“Their prime minister is determined to see that they rebuild quickly after this disaster and they’ve got Australia as a proven and good friend of the Solomons standing by and lending a hand.”
A New Zealand Air Force Boeing 757 departed for Honiara on Monday carrying sanitation kits, tarpaulins, water containers and chainsaws packs.
The Solomons are part of the “Ring of Fire”, a zone of tectonic activity around the Pacific that is subject to frequent earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
In 2007 a tsunami following a magnitude 8.0 earthquake killed at least 52 people in the Solomons and left thousands homeless.
Radio Australia: www.abc.net.au/ra
8) Respiratory illness striking tsunami-hit Solomons children
Posted at 06:04 on 12 February, 2013 UTC
A Solomon Islands disaster official says a growing number of children in the tsunami-hit Temotu province are coming to the hospital at the provincial capital Lata with respiratory illness.
Last week’s magnitude eight earthquake and subsequent tsunami killed at least 10 people on the main island of Ndende, injured others and wiped out homes, displacing thousands.
The National Disaster Management Office’s Sipuru Rove says so far not many people have contracted water-borne illnesses such as diarrhoea but numbers are expected to rise.
He says the current threat is acute respiratory infection.
“Mostly it’s children. I am not really aware of the details, the little details. But it was because of poor shelter and poor conditions outside the environment.”
Sipuru Rove says people can get advice from hospital staff on how to prevent the infection.
Disaster aid continues to flow into Solomon Islands, with Taiwan announcing funding today of almost 200-thousand US dollars.
Radio New Zealand International
9) Parliament To Debate Vanuatu Provident Fund Report
After appropriate processes completed, report may be made public
By Ricky Binihi
PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, Feb. 11, 2013) – The investigation into allegations the sackedGeneral Manager of Vanuatu National Provident Fund (VNPF) had an influence in employing five of her wantoks and former workmates at TVL will be debated in Parliament before the audit report can be made public, VNPF Chairman of Board of Directors Mr. Simil Johnson told Daily Post in a press statement yesterday.
The public and members of the Fund have been asking when the VNPF would release the report on the external reviews of the VNPF carried out by the Auditor General, the Reserve bank of Vanuatu and the Ombudsman when there was mounting tensions in Port Vila about irregularities in VNPF five months ago.
Board Chairman Simil said, “The two outstanding reviews; the Ombudsman’s review and the Auditor General’s review which was being undertaken by the consulting company Ernst & Young from Australia are outside the control of VNPF. The timing on the publication of the findings and conclusions are completely outside the control of VNPF.”
All Auditor General’s reports are debated in Parliament and it would not be until March when Parliament meets and the Ernst & Young investigation into VNPF will be made public.
Mr. Simil said the report of the Ombudsman on VNPF could not be released until such time the Ombudsman was satisfied that due process has been followed and all implicated in the report had a right to reply to accusations.
The RBV audit report on the Fund could not be released to the public because RBV are VNPF’s regulator and according to the Financial Institutions Act those reports are strictly confidential, Mr. Simil said.
“From the Board’s perspective, while the VNPF Board has access to the reports by EY & RBV and would like to see the process completed at the earliest possible opportunity, it would comply with the respective legal processes required to enable the release of these reports for public information.
This would then allow VNPF members to judge the Board’s action already undertaken to protect the integrity, reputation and assets of the Fund,” Mr. Simil said.
There still has been no reason given by the Board why VNPF GM Anniva Tarilongi, the Corporate Services Manager Nadia Kanagai, and four other senior VNPF managers had been sacked by the VNPF Board last month.
Vanuatu Daily Post: http://www.vanuatudaily.com
10) Ni-Vanuatu workers to experience cane and cotton farming in Australia
By Online Editor
3:48 pm GMT+12, 12/02/2013, Vanuatu
Australia’s Seasonal Workers Pilot (SWP) scheme, under which Vanuatu and four other Pacific Island countries can send their people to work in mainly horticulture and viticulture industries in Australia, is now trialing seasonal work in cotton, sugar cane, aqua-farming and accommodation sectors.
“We were a bit reluctant at the start about the cane farming work, considering the experiences of the islanders from here during the Black Birding days during which thousands of them worked in atrocious conditions in the sugar cane plantations of Queensland,” said Commissioner of Labour Lionel Kaluat.
“But we have shifted stance because the industry has changed a lot from those days and has become highly mechanized.”
He said the move by the Australian scheme offers additional opportunities for successful ni-Vanuatu workers.
“Both the cotton and cane farming sectors, for instance, offer additional opportunities for ni-Vanuatu workers to earn an income and also to learn and bring back invaluable skills that they can use here such as general farm work, ground preparation, weeding, fencing, and disease and pest control.”
Commissioner Kaluat was speaking to holders of the sixteen new Seasonal Employment Agency licenses for the SWP scheme recently issued by the Department of Labour.
Using a power point presentation, Kaluat showed places and areas in Australia where trials in cotton, cane and aqua farming and accommodation work are taking place.
He also explained that due to certain work conditions between the two seasonal workers schemes, those who have worked in New Zealand under the Recognized Seasonal Employment (RSE) scheme must cease working there for three years before they can join the SWP scheme to work in Australia.
Since the SWP scheme began in 2009, the number of Vanuatu workers that have accessed the opportunity reached 80 in 2011 and 100 last year, and with the news licensees for the scheme it is hoped to see an increase in this number this year.
SOURCE: VANUATU DAILY POST/PACNEWS
11) Vanuatu MP Lengkon succeeds MP Tosul at EU
By Online Editor
3:47 pm GMT+12, 12/02/2013, Vanuatu
The Vanuatu Embassy to the European Union in Brussels, Kingdom of Belgium has confirmed that newly elected NUP Member of Parliament of Ambrym Bruno Lengkon has been selected to succeed outgoing MP of Pentecost, David Tosul, to represent Vanuatu at the ACT/EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly.
One of MP Lengkon’s priority challenges in the ACP/ EU JPA process is the current issue of the kava ban by the Germans and a few selected EU member states and the Kava dossier is still very central in the ACP/ EU agenda.
MP Lengkon can rest assured that in all the ACP/ EU JPA Meetings, he will be assisted by the Vanuatu Ambassador to the EU and the ACP Group, Roy Mickey Joy.
The Ambassador has worked tirelessly to facilitate a series of meetings towards the progress of the kava ban to make it possible for it to be added to the agenda for discussions in the EU-ACP Joint Parliamentary Assembly.
MP Lengkon has been appointed by the Speaker of Parliament, George A Wells and endorsed by Prime Minister Sato Kilman to be Vanuatu’s substantive representative in the ACP/ EU Joint Parliamentary.
The Parliament of the Republic of Vanuatu became a standing member of the ACP- EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly way back in 2007 when MP David Tosul of Pentecost Constituency was nominated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to represent Vanuatu’s Parliamentary interests in this very important Joint ACP and EU organ.
The ACP- EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly was created to bring together the elected MP Representatives of the European Union and the elected representatives of the African, Caribbean and the Pacific [ACP Group of Countries] that are parties to the ACP/EU Cotonou Agreement of 2000.
Since the entry into force of the Treaty on European Union and EU Enlargement it has acquired a more prominent role. A substantial part of the work and functions of the JPA is directed towards promoting human rights and democracy and the common values of humanity, and has produced joint commitments undertaken within the framework of the UN Conferences.
The ACP/ EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly is a very important political organ that has made active contributions towards implementing and reinforcing successive ACP/ EU Conventions and has put forward a number of proposals including ;-
• the role of women in the development process
• the integration of environment policy in development projects
• promotion of trade as a tool for development, particularly by the Economic Partnership Agreement
• the convening of annual meetings between economic and social partners and equally
• a strong and dedicated stand on rule of law and democracy in the ACP states and Government.
The ACP – EU JPA conducts annually 4 separate meetings twice each year in Brussels followed by one in a EU state and another one in a selected ACP state.
MP Lengkon will be expected to attend the first 2013 ACP/ EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly Session in Brussels next month from March 19 to 23. The Embassy of the Republic of Vanuatu wishes to extend warm congratulations to MP Lengkon for his new appointment and likewise recognises the contributions of the former Vanuatu representative in the ACP/ EU MP, Tosul from 2007 to 2012.
SOURCE: VANUATU DAILY POST/PACNEWS
12) Obese New Caledonians turn to Australia for help
By Online Editor
1:43 pm GMT+12, 12/02/2013, Australia
A program subsidised by the French government is helping obese patients from New Caledonia have skin removal surgery on Australia’s Gold Coast.
All the patients flown to Queensland had all been in dire situations and have had drastic operations as a last ditch attempt to save their lives.
Chief Executive Officer of Medichol Australia Cynthia Muir has told Radio Australia Pacific Beat, New Caledonia has the worst record per capita of obesity, with 70 per cent of the population suffering from this illness.
“Most of the people are very very sick with related illness to obesity…most people suffer from morbid obesity, which is the worst category,” she said
Muir says some patients weighed in at up to 350kg and blames junk food over cultural preferences for the problem.
She says she has organised for about 50 people to be flown to Australia to undergo skin removal surgery over a period of three years.
“The patients flown to Australia are very fragile” she said
“Australia has better structure, better services, better specialists… and better post operative care”
Muir says many others with less complicated situations have had the procedure done locally.
She says in some case when a patient loses half their body weight up to 20kg of skin needs to be removed.
“It’s almost worse than having the kilos, because it’s like a deformity of their body and they can’t even walk,” she said.
“Psychologically it’s terrible – they hate their bodies more than before.”.
SOURCE: RADIO AUSTRALIA/PACNEWS
13) Fiji’s National Federation Party to register on Wednesday
By Online Editor
09:35 am GMT+12, 12/02/2013, Fiji
Fiji’s oldest political party, National Federation Party will register under the new Political Parties Decree 2013 on Wednesday.
Party president, Raman Pratap Singh told FijiLive that they have not only collected 5000 signatures but have also organised a sum of $5005 registration fees.
“We are ready to register under the new political decree,” Singh said. He added that it was an unfortunate loss for the party as two senior members holding executive positions had to resign because of their positions as trade unionists.
Attar Singh and Pramod Rae resigned during the executive meeting of the party in Nadi yesterday
All political parties intending to contest the 2014 elections will need to register by this Thursday.
Meanwhile, the National Youth Party is keen to register for the 2014 elections under the new Political Parties Decree before the registration deadline this Thursday.
Party leader Nayagodamu Korovou told FijiLive that they have successfully completed registrations in the Southern Division and are now working in other Divisions.
“Our members will return from the Central, Eastern and Northern Division on Wednesday and whatever we have, we will submit it to the Elections Office,” Korovou said.
He further added that the party has been facing financial difficulties as a sponsor had recently pulled out.
NYP was registered in 2009.
SOURCE: FIJI LIVE/PACNEWS
14) Feb 14 deadline for Fiji Political parties to register
By Online Editor
1:47 pm GMT+12, 12/02/2013, Fiji
Existing political parties in Fiji have until this Thursday to re-register under the new Registration of Political Parties Decree.
Acting Prime Minister, Attorney General and Minister for Electoral Reform Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum revealed yesterday that there would be no extension to the 28-day deadline for the re-registration of existing political parties which ends on February 14.
The AG also said that the 5000 signatures collected by political parties as required under the Political Parties Registration Decree would be scrutinised by the registrar of elections.
“There will be no extension to the deadline,” he said.
When queried whether political parties were being monitored during the signature gathering exercise, the AG said parties were not being observed but signatures gathered would be scrutinised.
“There is no monitoring when political parties go out and get signatures but definitely the registrar, under the decree, will look at the signatures that have been obtained. They obviously need to be bonafide persons, they need to exist, they need to have voter ID card numbers there and the other thing is a person who was an original signatory to the registration of a political party cannot simultaneously sign as an original member for another political party,” he said.
Sayed-Khaiyum said new political parties were not bound by the 28-day time-frame and said concerns that new parties would find difficulty in obtaining the required number of signatures were unfounded.
“New parties do not have the 28-day time-frame. They can apply at any time they like. Secondly, 5000 signatures is only 0.8 per cent of the voter population. So even if 10 political parties went and got 5000 signatures each, it’s only 8 per cent. In terms of the proportion of the signatures required to the potential of registered number of voters, it’s still very small.”
Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry said the FLP was working towards obtaining the signatures required while senior executive member of the proposed Social Democratic Liberal (SDL) Party Doctor Tupeni Baba has revealed that they were making good progress with meeting the requirements of the decree.
National Federation Party president Raman Pratap Singh said the political organisation had obtained the 5000 signatures as required and would be making their formal re-registration application on Wednesday.
SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/PACNEWS
15) Samoa Gambling Control Authority awarded two casino licenses
By Online Editor
09:27 am GMT+12, 12/02/2013, Samoa
The two casino licenses up for grabs have been awarded to Aggie Greys Beach Resort and Exhibition Tourism Group (ETC) from China.
Aggie Resort expected to start its casino within the six months with ETC to follow in the next two to three years, chairman of the Gambling Control Authority (GCA), Fanene Samau Etuale, told reporters.
Seven companies submitted bids for a casino license, Fanene said.
“One reason Aggie’s won one of the licenses is its successful history as a hotel operator since 1937,” he said.
The resort has contracted a casino management group in Macau to provide “professional management and supervision.”
Based in Chengdu China, ETG is known for tourism development through taking big tours around the world. “For that reason and the boost to the economy that that will bring, it was not difficult to award ETG the other license,” Fanene said.
The company is looking at leasing 500 acres of land in Samoa to build a 500-room hotel for is casino operation.
Under law, casinos may only be run from hotels. Further, only holders of foreign passports who are guests of hotels may gamble in casinos.
The move to introduce casinos stirred widespread opposition, with the National Council of Churches (NCC) amongst those who objected. NCC predicted the crime rate will increase.
NCC Chairman Kasiano Leaupepe said there was good reason behind the church’s stand against the operation of any casino in the country.
“A casino is nothing but a devil’s weapon for degrading a human being,” said the NCC Chairman.
However, Fanene said differences over the issue have been resolved.
SOURCE: TALAMUA ONLINE/PACNEWS
16) President Dabwido changes Nauru cabinet line-up
By Online Editor
3:58 pm GMT+12, 12/02/2013, Nauru
The Nauru government appears to be in disarray as it prepares to assess asylum seekers at the island’s controversial Australian run detention camp.
Last week a key cabinet minister resigned and Monday another was sacked.
Dr Kieren Keke, who as foreign minister was Nauru’s spokesperson on detention camp issues, resigned last week, without any explanation.
He is said to still be part of the government and a replacement is yet to be named.
On Monday, enterprises minister and former president, Marcus Stephen, was sacked by the president Sprent Dabwido, and again no reasons have been made public.
Last week the government also just managed to withstand a vote of no confidence brought by the opposition – the vote 9 to 8 in the 18 seat legislature.
Now the Speaker is being petitioned to recall Parliament.
Amid these political ructions Nauru is ostensibly preparing to assess the claims of hundreds of asylum seekers for refugee status.
With Australian help, but officially managed by Nauru, formal interviews of the asylum seekers are expected to begin by the end of this month.
There are plans also for an appeals tribunal and hopes that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees will provide training for the interviewers.
17) “Stori Tumbuna”: l’abominable homme des tropiques
C’est le titre du documentaire du Neo-Zelandais Paul Wolfram et de ses amis Laks, qui vivent en Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinee. Un film collectif en lice pour le grand prix du 10eme FIFO – Festival International du Film documentaire Oceanien, qui s’ouvrira demain a Tahiti.
«Song ? Song est un homme sauvage qui vit dans la jungle. Il tue les gens qui s’aventurent dans la jungle. Le Song est hirsute, il a des cheveux très longs, des mains démesurées, et ses pieds sont montés à l’envers. Quand vous voyez ses traces dans la jungle aller vers la droite, eh ben en fait il est parti vers la gauche. Parce que ses orteils sont à la place de ses talons. C’est comme ça que le Song arrive à tuer tant de gens. Quand ils fuient dans le sens inverse des empreintes du Song, en fait ils se jettent dans sa gueule.»
Cet abominable monstre des tropiques est le centre de « Stori Tumbuna », le documentaire de Paul Wolffram en compétition au 10ème Festival International du Film documentaire Océanien à Papeete cette semaine. Ce Néo-Zélandais a débarqué en qualité d’ethnomusicologue en pays Lak, une ethnie qui vit au sud de l’île de Nouvelle-Irlande, en Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée.
Mais au bout de six mois, les villageois ont compris qu’ils pourraient se servir de la caméra amateur de Paul Wolffram pour raconter des histoires. C’est alors qu’est né le projet d’une ethnofiction, un type de documentaire inventé par le cinéaste français Jean Rouch dans les années 50.
Un vieil homme parti chasser disparaît dans la jungle. Un villageois retrouve son paquetage et les femmes commencent leurs lamentations de deuil. Aucun doute, c’est le Song qui a emporté le vieil homme. Paul Wolffram et les villageois partent sur la trace du monstre et évidemment ne comptez pas sur moi pour vous révéler le dénouement. Mais ce qui est sûr, c’est que c’est un documentaire à rebondissements.
Pas de chance Paul Wolffram est en tournage en ce moment en Nouvelle-Zélande, il n’est donc pas présent au FIFO, mais nous l’avons saisi au téléphone avant de nous envoler vers Papeete.
SON manière de raconter des histoires des Lak
Stori Tumbuna, en tok pisin, donc le pidgin de Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée, ça veut dire « les histoires, les contes des ancêtres ». Cet ethnofiction est le fruit d’un travail collectif entre Paul Wolffram et les villageois avec lesquels il a vécu pendant 2 ans.
SON comment fonctionnait la réalisation collective (45’’)
«Paul : vous croyez que le Song existe vraiment ou que c’est juste un mythe ?
Jeune homme : Bien sûr qu’il existe !
Un autre homme : Ça s’est bien un truc des Blancs, vous ne pouvez croire en quelque chose que si vous l’avez dans les mains, donc tu croiras au Song que quand on l’aura capturé !
Paul : C’est vrai.»
Oui, qui peut, sérieusement, croire à la légende du monstre de la jungle ? Les Blancs cartésiens, sûrement pas. Mais le gouvernement provincial non plus… L’histoire du Song, visiblement, c’est pas fait pour les citadins assis dans leurs bureaux.
«Nerus : Et pourquoi on ne demanderait pas l’aide du gouvernement provincial ? Ils pourraient nous envoyer l’armée ou au moins des armes pour qu’on puisse traquer le Song !
Le chef, Bar : mais on a déjà essayé et ils ne nous croient jamais !
Les autres : c’est vrai, le gouvernement se contrefiche de nous, on n’est rien pour eux de toute façon.»
SON Ils parlent souvent du fait que le gouvernement ne les aidera pas : ils sont coupés du monde sur l’île de Nouvelle-Irlande (1’18’’)
En 2011, « Stori Tumbuna » a été couronné du prix Jean Rouch du Festival de la société d’anthropologie visuelle de San Francisco ainsi que du grand prix du festival international du cinéma ethnographique Jean Rouch à Paris.http://www.
18) Pacific Plan review calls for pooling of sovereignty
By Online Editor
3:54 pm GMT+12, 12/02/2013, Fiji
The man leading a review of the Pacific Plan says Pacific Islands countries will have to forgo some sovereignty if the document is to have value.
A former Papua New Guinea prime minister, Sir Mekere Morauta, says the Pacific Plan, put in place by the leaders of Pacific Islands Forum countries eight years ago to promote regionalism, has achieved little to date.
He says in his discussions around the region so far, he has learnt that many countries do not feel a sense of ownership of the Plan.
Sir Mekere says to achieve the benefits of regional initiatives Pacific nations will need to trade off some of their sovereignty.
“I would call it pooling some of their sovereignty together so that we can implement some of these – areas that are very obvious but have not worked, for instance is bulk buying of fuel, bulk buying of pharmaceuticals. Obviously of benefit, potential benefit to smaller countries, but nothing has happened.”.
19) Regional Powers Renegotiating U.S. Fishing In Pacific
Revisited purse seiner agreement may be worth $63 million
By Bernadette Carreon
HAGÅTÑA, GUAM (Marianas Business Journal, Feb. 11, 2013) – Officials of the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA) and Pacific Island Parties are currently in Auckland, New Zealand, negotiating to determine whether the United States purse seiners can continue fishing in the PNA waters and the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) of other Forum Fisheries Agency member nations.
Nanette Malsol, PNA chairwoman and Palau’s Director of the Bureau of Oceanic Fishery Management said in an earlier interview that the fishing agreement is now being renegotiated for extension as the previous agreement will expire in June.
The treaty between the U.S. and the Pacific Island Parties was signed in 1987 and has been extended, with the current expiration date on June 14.
She said the treaty allows up to 40 U.S.-flagged purse-seine vessels to fish in the EEZs of the 17 member parties.
The PNA comprises eight countries that cooperate to manage tuna – the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Tuvalu, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands.
The current value of the treaty is $21 million. With the renegotiation, the value is expected to increase to $63 million.
“Regional arrangements are also key principles in the renegotiation including the application of the Vessel Day Scheme [which has been agreed by U.S.] and other regional arrangements such as high seas pockets closure, observers program, fish aggregating devices closure, catch retention plan, and most importantly, to require broader cooperation in domestic development for pacific island parties and finally, to applying national laws,” Malsol said.
She added that in the case of Palau, under the existing treaty, U.S. vessels rarely fish in Palau’s EEZ due to its distance from transshipment ports and processing plants. In the event that a U.S. purse seine vessel enters and fishes in Palau’s EEZ, then a formula is applied to the financial package which distributes the catch allocation to Palau.
The negotiations started Feb. 4 and were to end Feb. 9.
Officials said if no agreement is reached, the fishing rights of the U.S. purse seiners in the region will cease to exist after June 14.
Marianas Business Journal
20) World leaders condemn N Korea nuclear test
Updated 12 February 2013, 21:44 AEST
World leaders have condemned North Korea’s latest nuclear test, with the United Nations Security Council set for an emergency meeting early tomorrow morning (AEDT).
North Korean state media has confirmed the country has successfully conducted a nuclear test after weeks of threats. (Credit: ABC)
World leaders have condemned North Korea’s latest nuclear test, with the United Nations Security Council set for an emergency meeting early tomorrow morning (AEDT).
North Korea confirmed it completed the nuclear test earlier today, saying it had used a miniature nuclear device in a “safe and perfect manner”.
The North had been threatening to undertake the test for weeks, in response to sanctions imposed after its successful rocket launch in December last year.
The UN Security Council will now convene around 1:00am (AEDT) tomorrow morning for an emergency meeting.
UN chief Ban Ki-Moon led the global condemnation of the test, with his office saying it is a “clear and grave violation” of Security Council resolutions.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard joined the UN chief in his disapproval, saying Australia would work for the strongest possible response to North Korea’s continuing defiance of the will of the international community.
Audio: North Korea conducts nuclear test (PM)
Speaking from Vanuatu, Foreign Minister Bob Carr said the test will rattle nerves and undermine peace in the north Asia region.
“We see it as deeply disturbing. We’re going to work with our colleagues – Japan and South Korea in particular,” he said.
“We acknowledge that China has tried very, very hard and sincerely to dissuade North Korea from this deeply destabilising action.”
Japan has responded by putting its military on high alert and ordering the air force to take air samples in a bid to detect radiation.
South Korean officials say the North gave the US and China advanced warning of the test.
The North risks driving a wedge between itself and China with the latest nuclear test, which goes directly against the wishes of its major ally.
China said it strongly opposed North Korea’s latest nuclear test, urging its ally to abide by its non-nuclear commitment and not take any actions that would worsen the situation on the Korean peninsula.
“It is China’s firm stance to realise non-nuclearisation for the Korean peninsula and prevent nuclear proliferation and maintain peace and stability in north-east Asia” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
South Korea’s defence minister Kim Kwan Jin has warned that Pyongyang could be preparing for a second nuclear test in the coming days.
“We are on high alert for an additional nuclear test or missile launch so we’re fully mobilising combined intelligence resources of South Korea and the United States,” he said.
However, the US, who North Korea has been taunting continuously over past weeks, has called for “swift and credible” international action in response.
Last week, North Korea posted a video to YouTube depicting a city similar to New York on fire after an apparent missile attack.
US president Barack Obama vowed in a written statement that Washington would remain vigilant and steadfast in its defence commitments to its allies in Asia.
“These provocations do not make North Korea more secure,” Mr Obama said.
“Far from achieving its stated goal of becoming a strong and prosperous nation, North Korea has instead increasingly isolated and impoverished its people through its ill-advised pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery.”
Mr Obama complained the test was a “highly provocative act” that, following the North’s December 12 ballistic missile launch, undermined regional stability and violated UN Security Council resolutions.
“The danger posed by North Korea’s threatening activities warrants further swift and credible action by the international community,” he said.
“The United States will also continue to take steps necessary to defend ourselves and our allies.”
South Korean analysts say the blast could have yielded an impact of between 6 and 7 kilotons.
The nuclear test is North Korea’s third, after earlier tests in 2006 and 2009.
British foreign secretary William Hague said Britain would press for a robust response to the event.
“I strongly condemn this development, which is a violation of UN Security Council Resolutions 1718, 1874 and 2087,” Mr Hague said in a statement.
“The UK will begin urgent consultations with Security Council partners calling for a robust response to this latest development.”
Meanwhile, Russia said it considered the test a violation of UN Security Council resolutions, according to state media.
“We condemn these actions by North Korea and see them, along with the recent ballistic rocket satellite launch, as a violation of corresponding UN Security Council resolutions,” a foreign ministry source told the Interfax agency.
Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe labelled the test a “grave threat” to his nation that could not be tolerated.
“[The test] is a grave threat to the safety of our country and a serious challenge against the global framework of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation,” Mr Abe said in a statement. http://www.radioaustralia.net.
21) Pope Benedict announces retirement
Updated 12 February 2013, 19:27 AEST
The Vatican insists illness did not contribute to Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to quit, after the 85-year-old German becomes the first pontiff to resign since the Middle Ages.
Pope Benedict says ‘both strength of body and mind are necessary’ to perform his role as he prepares to step down after a tenure marked by waves of sexual abuse crises for the Catholic church. (Credit: ABC)
Pope Benedict XVI has surprised the world by announcing he will stand down at the end of this month because he is too old and frail to cope with the demands of his ministry.
The 85-year-old German-born pontiff, who was elected in 2005 but saw the Catholic Church rocked by a series of child abuse scandals during his reign, will become the first pope to stand down since the Middle Ages.
The Vatican says his successor will be elected by a conclave of cardinals before Easter Sunday, March 31.
Audio: Pope says ailing body forced his resignation (AM)
What happens now? Choosing a new pope
Benedict, hailed as a hero by conservative Catholics but viewed with suspicion by liberals, said he had noticed that his strength had deteriorated over recent months.
“I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry,” the 85-year-old said in a speech delivered in Latin at a meeting of cardinals in the Vatican.
Profile: Pope Benedict
Born Joseph Ratzinger on April 16, 1927 in Germany’s Bavaria region.
Father, also named Joseph, was a policeman.
Required to join the Hitler Youth at age 14.
Trained as an anti-aircraft gunner and was briefly taken POW in 1945.
Ordained as a priest in 1951, went on to teach theology at several universities.
Ordained as the 265th pope on April 19, 2005.
The first Pope to abdicate since Pope Gregory XII in 1415.
Read more about the life and work of Pope Benedict.
Dressed in red vestments and his voice barely audible as he read from a written text, the Pope made the announcement that he would resign on February 28 in a hall in his residence – the Apostolic Palace next to St Peter’s Square.
Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said he expected a conclave of cardinals to be held in March within 15 or 20 days of the resignation and a new pope elected before Easter Sunday.
“The Pope caught us a bit by surprise,” Mr Lombardi said at a hastily-arranged press conference.
He stressed that the Pope’s decision was his own and was “well thought out” and that “there is no illness that has contributed to it”.
Benedict, who has often had to use a mobile platform to move around St Peter’s basilica during Church services, had hinted in a book of interviews in 2010 that he might resign if he felt he was no longer able to carry out his duties.
The Pope suffers from arthritis, had a stroke while he was still cardinal, and broke a wrist when he slipped in the bath in 2009.
Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who was at the historic meeting as the Pope made his announcement, described it as a “a bolt of lightning in a clear blue sky”.
Timeline: Pope Benedict’s legacy
Benedict’s brother Georg Ratzinger said he had known “for a few months” that he was planning to resign and was “feeling the burden of his age.”
In a statement, the Pope said in order to govern “…both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognise my incapacity to adequately fulfil the ministry entrusted to me”.
“For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter,” he said.
“The See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.”
The Pope said he would devotedly serve the Church through a life dedicated to prayer after his retirement.
The job of choosing a new pope lies in the hand of a conclave of cardinals who will meet in secret in the Sistine Chapel.
There has been growing pressure on the Church for it to choose a pope from the developing world to better reflect where most Catholics live and where the Church is growing.
“It could be time for a black pope, or a yellow one, or a red one, or a Latin American,” Guatemala’s Archbishop Oscar Julio Vian Morales said.
The only other pope to resign because he felt unable to fulfil his duties was Celestine V in 1294, a hermit who stepped down after just a few months in office saying he yearned for a simpler life and was not physically capable for the office.
In 1415, Gregory XII resigned in a bid to end the “Western Schism”, when two rival claimants declared themselves pope in Pisa and Avignon and threatened to tear apart Roman Catholicism.
Papal precedents: Other popes who walked away
The Pope’s leadership of 1.2 billion Catholics has been beset by a child sexual abuse crisis that tarnished the Church, an address in which he upset Muslims and a scandal over the leaking of his private papers by his personal butler.
Before he was elected Pope, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was known by such epithets as “God’s Rottweiler” because of his stern stand on theological issues.
But after several years in his new job he showed not only that he did not bite, but barely even barked.
In recent months the Pope has looked increasingly frail in public, sometimes being helped to walk by those around him.
Australia’s most senior Catholic, Archbishop of Sydney George Pell, said the Pope’s decision had come as a surprise, and thanked him for his devoted leadership and service.
“Benedict has always loved the church and worked to do what was best for her,” he said.
A spokesman for the German government said he was “moved” by the news, while Israel’s chief rabbi praised Benedict’s inter-faith outreach and wished him good health.
Elected to the papacy on April 19, 2005 when he was 78 – 20 years older than his predecessor John Paul was when he was elected – he ruled over a slower-paced, more cerebral and less impulsive Vatican.
But while conservatives cheered him for trying to reaffirm traditional Catholic identity, his critics accused him of turning back the clock on reforms by nearly half a century and hurting dialogue with Muslims, Jews and other Christians.
Under the German’s meek demeanour lay a steely intellect ready to dissect theological works for their dogmatic purity and debate fiercely against dissenters.
After appearing uncomfortable in the limelight at the start, he began feeling at home with his new job and showed that he intended to be Pope in his way.
Despite great reverence for his charismatic, globe-trotting predecessor – whom he put on the fast track to sainthood and whom he beatified in 2011 – aides said he was determined not to change his quiet manner to imitate John Paul’s style.
A quiet, professorial type who relaxed by playing the piano, he managed to show the world the gentle side of the man who was the Vatican’s chief doctrinal enforcer for nearly a quarter of a century.
The first German pope for some 1,000 years and the second non-Italian in a row, he travelled regularly, making about four foreign trips a year, but never managed to draw the oceanic crowds of his predecessor.
String of scandals
The child abuse scandals hounded most of his papacy. He ordered an official inquiry into abuse in Ireland, which led to the resignation of several bishops.
Scandal from a source much closer to home hit in 2012 when the pontiff’s butler, responsible for dressing him and bringing him meals, was found to be the source of leaked documents alleging corruption in the Vatican’s business dealings, causing an international furore.
He confronted his own country’s past when he visited the Nazi death camp at Auschwitz.
Calling himself “a son of Germany”, he prayed and asked why God was silent when 1.5 million victims, most of them Jews, died there during World War II.
Ratzinger served in the Hitler Youth during World War II when membership was compulsory. He was never a member of the Nazi party and his family opposed Adolf Hitler’s regime.
But his trip to Germany also prompted the first major crisis of his pontificate. In a university lecture he quoted a 14th century Byzantine emperor as saying Islam had only brought evil to the world and that it was spread by the sword.
After protests that included attacks on churches in the Middle East and the killing of a nun in Somalia, the Pope later said he regretted any misunderstanding the speech caused.
In a move that was widely seen as conciliatory, in late 2006 he made a historic trip to predominantly Muslim Turkey andprayed in Istanbul’s Blue Mosque with a Turkish mufti.
But months later, former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami met the Pope and said wounds between Christians and Muslims were still “very deep” as a result of the Regensburg speech.
The full statement from Pope Benedict:
I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonisations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church.
After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.
I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering.
However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognise my incapacity to adequately fulfil the ministry entrusted to me.
For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.
Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects.
And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.
From the Vatican, 10 February 2013
BENEDICTUS PP XVI
22) Poida calls up extended Vanuatu squad
By Online Editor
4:00 pm GMT+12, 12/02/2013, Vanuatu
Vanuatu coach Moise Poida has upped the tempo on preparations for the OFC U-20 Championship with an extended squad of 25 players meeting for training sessions up to four times a week.
Poida says with the tournament fast approaching he is certain his side will be prepared for the March 21 kick-off but that it is imperative the players continue to put in the hard yards now.
“The players must be very serious and attend all training sessions organised by me and my assistant coach Wilson August,” Poida says.
“I know that most of our boys are playing with their respective clubs in the Port Vila Shield competition now but they need to attend training every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday mornings at Korman Stadium.”
The extended selection of players come from at least seven different club sides including Tafea FC, Shepherds United, Erakor Golden Star and Spirit 08 and includes recent Solomon Warriors signing Brian Kaltak.
The OFC U-20 Championship runs from March 21-29 in Fiji.
23) All Whites head south for New Caledonia clash
By Online Editor
4:01 pm GMT+12, 12/02/2013, New Zealand
The All Whites’ last home FIFA World Cup qualifier against New Caledonia will be played at Dunedin’s Forsyth Barr Stadium on March 22.
A win in the Friday evening match will provide New Zealand coach Ricki Herbert and his charges Oceania’s place in the intercontinental playoff against a CONCACAF (North and Central American) nation in November 2013.
A draw will mean the final match of the qualifiers in Honiara against the Solomon Islands four days later will be more than a dead-rubber, with New Caledonia scheduled to face Tahiti at home on the same day.
“Anything is a possibility but nothing can be taken for granted in World Cup qualification,” said All Whites coach Ricki Herbert.
The match is the first football international at the impressive indoor Forsyth Barr Stadium, and is the first time the All Whites have played in Dunedin since 1988 against Australia.
NZF Chief Executive Grant McKavanagh said Dunedin was long overdue to host a high profile All Whites match with other venues around New Zealand hosting key matches in the recent past.
“New Zealand Football is committed to playing matches around the country. We’ve already played All Whites fixtures in Auckland, Christchurch and now Dunedin.
“The ASB Chatham Cup and ASB Women’s Knockout Cup have been played in Palmerston North and Wellington, while the Football Ferns have played in smaller venues in Auckland and Whangarei,” McKavanagh said.
The city was also the venue for New Zealand’s first international when it played also Australia at Carisbrook in 1922.
“Dunedin is noted for its love of sport and ‘scarfie’ population and in bringing this crucial match to Forsyth Barr Stadium, we’re hoping to see supporters from the region get out en masse and support the All Whites as they chase a berth at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil,” McKavanagh added.
Several of the Herbert’s potential All Whites will get an advanced look at the venue when the Wellington Phoenix plays the Melbourne Heart at Forsyth Barr Stadium on March 3 in an A-League match.
24)NZ men confirm place in top band for Rugby World Cup Sevens draw
By Online Editor
4:03 pm GMT+12, 12/02/2013, New Zealand
New Zealand’s Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 title ambitions have been given a massive boost after the International Rugby Board confirmed the All Blacks have secured the position as number one seeds for the showcase event in Moscow on June 28-30.
Despite being beaten 40-23 by South Africa in Sunday’s Cup final at the Las Vegas round of the HSBC Sevens World Series, consistency over the past two full Series as well as during a compelling current campaign, has seen New Zealand build an unassailable points lead ahead of the RWC Sevens Pool Allocation Draw, which takes place in Moscow on February 28.
New Zealand will be joined in band one for the Rugby World Cup Sevens Pool Allocation Draw by Fiji, South Africa, England, Samoa and Australia, who have all secured their places.
New Zealand’s experienced playmaker Tomasi Cama said: “Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow is the big focus for us this year. We haven’t won it for many years now so we want to turn that around in 2013. We are using the series as our preparation for that. Hopefully we will win the series first and then take that form into the tournament.”
“We want all the supporters to come from New Zealand and from all over the world to Moscow – it’s going to be a great event. It will be good to see everyone there. I have never been to Moscow before so fingers crossed I will make the team to Rugby World Cup Sevens.”
“It’s going to be very exciting to be in Moscow and to play in the Rugby Sevens World Cup will be a huge thrill for me and the rest of the guys. Hopefully, we will be able to do our country proud when we get there,” added the 32-year-old, who won the 2012 IRB Sevens Player of the Year, in association with HSBC.
Band two for the draw will be populated by defending champions Wales, Argentina, France, Kenya, Scotland and USA while the third tier will include Canada, Portugal, Spain, Russia, Tonga and Zimbabwe.
Band four consists of Japan, Hong Kong, Georgia, Tunisia, Philippines and the final qualifier from the South American region.
Meanwhile, the women’s rankings for RWC Sevens were confirmed last week with England, Australia, Canada and USA making up the top band.
RWC Sevens 2013 will be staged at Moscow’s premier sports venue, Luzhniki Stadium, which has previously hosted the Olympic Games and the final of the UEFA Champions League while the Pool Allocation Draw will take place on February 28 at Petroff Palace.
25)South Africa win USA Sevens title in style
By Online Editor
5:15 pm GMT+12, 11/02/2013, United States
South Africa were in stunning form in the final with Branco du Preez putting in a stellar performance, scoring two tries and contributing a haul of 18 points overall.
It was convincing win for Paul Treu’s men who scored six tries in all in a huge win over their New Zealand rivals. New Zealand rallied in the second half with three tries but it was too little too late.
South Africa’s win means that they become the fifth side to win a Series title this season, highlighting the huge competitiveness of the tournament right now.
Gordon Tietjens’ side had reached the final after beating 2011 finalists Fiji 19-14 in sudden death extra time through a David Raikuna try in the corner while it was Seabelo Senatla who dived into the opposite corner for 2011 winners South Africa against Samoa.
The defending champions narrowly beat Fiji to finish third in USA, winning 36-31 against their pacific island neighbours in one of the matches of the tournament. Leading 21-12, before trailing 31-26, Robert Lilomaiava scored to take the match to sudden death extra time, before also adding the winning try.
Canada lift the Bowl title
Canada won the Bowl title with a 22-5 win over Scotland. Tries from Nanyak Dala, Conor Trainor and a 20th career try for John Moonlight helped them to a fine win.
Canada captain Dala had earlier come off the bench to secure a dramatic 24-19 victory in the first Plate semi final against USA in sudden death extra time. Scotland reached the final after Stephen Gemmell’s side recorded their highest ever victory against Wales, winning 35-14.
Eight Series points for France in Bowl
France won the Bowl title with a 17-12 win over Argentina. Tries from Terry Brouhroua, Renaud Delmas and Vincent Deniau helped France to a narrow win in a physical contest
Argentina defeated Spain 21-12 to reach the Bowl final while Julien Candelon scored two great tries against last week’s winners England in a 40-7 win, Les Bleus’ highest score against England in the history of the Series.
Australia win Shield
Michael O’Connor’s side collected three Series points to end a disappointing campaign in Las Vegas. They beat Uruguay 41-0 in the final with Sean Mcmahon scoring two tries and Lewis Holland his eighth of the tournament in the widest ever margin in a Shield final.
Uruguay beat Portugal in the semi final, the first match of day three, with Ian Schmidt scoring his fifth World Series career try in the win. Holland completed a hat-trick as Australia beat last week’s finalists Kenya 38-7.