Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 825

Melanesia:


1) PNG Cabinet approves K53mil to host MSG festival of Arts
By Online Editor
5:19 pm GMT+12, 21/03/2013, Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea will host the fifth Melanesian Festival of Arts and Culture next year with the theme “Celebrating culture diversity”.

The National Executive Council has approved an allocation of K53 million (US$24 million) in next year’s budget.

The festival will be held in Port Moresby in July next year.

Culture ministers from the region met in Kone in 2010 and decided that PNG would host the 2014 festival.

The festival was initiated in 1998 and hosted by the Solomon Islands, followed by Vanuatu in 2002, Fiji in 2006 and New Caledonia in 2010.

The aim of the festival is to preserve, protect and promote the traditional culture diversity of the Melanesian countries.

It will be organised by a National Melanesian Arts and Cultural Committee and co-ordinated by the National Cultural Commission.

Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Boka Kondra said there was a need to develop and protect the contemporary Melanesian cultures

“The Melanesian Spearhead Group leaders decided to have the Melanesian Festival of Arts and Culture as the main vehicle for this protection, preservation and development,” he said.

SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS

2) Involve young Melanesians in promoting culture and heritage
By Online Editor
2:25 pm GMT+12, 20/03/2013, Fiji

The manager of the Pacific Heritage Hub has called on the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) countries Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and the Kanaks of New Caledonia to involve young Melanesians in promoting their culture and heritage.

Speaking at a panel discussion at the University of the South Pacific in Suva last night as part of the three day celebration commemorating the 25th Anniversary of the MSG, Adi Meretui Ratunabuabua said that the MSG should fully engage the youth of Melanesia.

“There is a need to involve young people in promoting their heritage,” said Adi Meretui.

As chair of the Intergovernmental Council of Pacific Arts and Culture through the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) she said that culture can play a very important role in economic development, particularly in rural areas where people can sell arts and crafts as a means of securing sustainable livelihoods.

She stated that a regional cultural strategy has been developed and endorsed by the Ministers for Culture and Education from Melanesian through SPC and the MSG Council for Arts and Culture.

“It’s now time to take the words and put them into practise to implement, monitor and evaluate the strategies from national policy with community development integral to sustainable development.”

One of the key recommendations of the MSG Council for Arts and Culture is the protection of traditional knowledge; the legal protection of indigenous knowledge is identified as an immediate priority for the MSG countries.

She says it is now up to the countries to work on national actions with appropriate legislations and policies put in place.

The MSG Council has also noted that population concentration, diversity of cultures and richness in language and arts, distinguishes Melanesia from the rest of the Pacific.

The Fiji celebrations of the 25th Anniversary of MSG concludes today.

SOURCE: PACNEWS

3) MSG needs a new roadmap for the next 25 years
By Online Editor
2:27 pm GMT+12, 20/03/2013, Fiji

The Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) needs a ‘roadmap’ to guide its work for the next 25 years and beyond.

“The MSG is young and growing, with opportunities galore, with new targets to aim for and new achievements to expect, said Kaliopate Tavola, one of the Eminent Person’s recruited by the sub-regional group to chart a new way forward for the MSG.

Tavola was amongst a selected group of experts from Melanesia invited to share their views on the future of the Melanesian Spearhead Group.

He said the MSG should ‘open itself to new opportunities’ as it grapples with increasing challenges of globalisation and changing geopolitics in the region.

“One of the challenges is the label of ‘arc of instability’ which should be turned around as a means to aspire, borrowing from what Sir Michael Somare termed as an ‘arc of prosperity.’

For young Kanak and Radio Djiido journalist, Magalie Tingal, the MSG is their ‘arc of opportunity. She expressed the desires of her people to be integrated into the Pacific and with MSG.

“MSG is our future. Our culture and our identity is with Melanesia not in Europe, said Tingal.

Tavola, who will soon lead an Eminent Person Group to review the MSG, echoed the observation made by the PNG Grand Chief that if the MSG is to remain relevant, it should continue to push for the eventual independence for the Kanaks of New Caledonia and the similar struggles of the people of West Papua in Indonesia.

He agreed with the suggestion that the MSG open its membership, as suggested by Sir Michael Somare.

“The MSG should open itself to new issues, widening its Terms of Reference. It must have some degree of responsiveness to the interests expressed from those outside the organisation.

“The MSG is the only strongest, well advanced and unique sub-regional group. The region can only be strong if we have strong sub-regional groups like the MSG. Other regions have set up their groups like the Polynesian Leaders Group, the Small Island States and the Micronesians.

MSG Director General, Peter Forau assured the group is a ‘shoulder to lean on’ for issues that concern the membership. He was responding to questions on the push for independence for the indigenous people of New Caledonia.

“We are a regional and international voice for those who cannot speak for themselves’ said Forau, assuring that human rights abuses and push for independence for the people of West Papua is not forgotten by the MSG.

“For West Papua, the issue is a bit sensitive right now. But we continue to speak out against the situation there. Most recently, the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea spoke out against the abuses in West Papua.

“We have some difficulties with West Papua because their issue is to re-enlist on the UN List of decolonised states. However, as a start we have received an application from one of their groups to join the MSG. This is following its normal process of approval before the Leaders will decide in June, said Forau.

The panel discussion at the University of the South Pacific on the topic ‘What does the MSG mean to you’ was organised by the Pacific International Relations Forum (PIRF). PIRF is an initiative by the students of the Diplomacy and International Relations Masters Programme to create public discussion on regional and international issues relevant to the Pacific region.
SOURCE: PACNEWS

4) MSG membership crucial for Fiji
By Online Editor
2:19 pm GMT+12, 20/03/2013, Fiji

It wouldn’t have been right for Fiji not to join the Melanesian Spearhead Group when it did in 1996, says then Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka.

Rabuka told FBC News since then, Fiji has had and still has a lot to offer its Melanesian neighbors and vice versa.

“Fiji was not part of the initial group that joined the MSG because at that time Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara was regarded as one of the founding members of the Pacific Islands Forum with Australia and New Zealand so it would have appeared like Fiji was deserting the rest of the Pacific and going with the rest of the Western group, or Melanesian group.”

Supporting Rabuka’s statement is Solomon Island’s Commissioner to Fiji Patterson Oti, who says without Fiji, the MSG wouldn’t have been complete.

“When Fiji came in, it perhaps completed as it were, the Melanesian bloc within the MSG.”

The MSG is composed of the four Melanesian states of Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu as well as the FLNKS of New Caledonia.

SOURCE: FBC/PACNEWS

5) Bougainville govt tasked to explain money use
By Online Editor
5:06 pm GMT+12, 21/03/2013, Papua New Guinea

The Autonomous Bougainville Government (ABG) has been taken to task over its handling of annual development grants by the national government.

Bougainville Affairs Minister Steven Kamma told parliament yesterday that the ABG had not properly accounted for the first K200 million (US$93 million) of its K500 million (US$233 million) five-year development package.

Kamma said in his ministerial statement that under the financing arrangement, K100 million (US$46 million) would be provided for infrastructure development each year from 2012-16.

He said the funds should be properly accounted for and reported to him so he could inform the prime minister and National Executive Council.

The minister said the ABG’s financial reporting and accounting mechanism was not in place and therefore, he was unable to report on the expenditure and implementation aspects of the development package.

Kamma also told parliament that the prime minister would be seeking the speaker’s approval to establish a bi-partisan parliamentary committee for Bougainville.

“The bi-partisan committee will provide oversight over various activities on the autonomous region such as the referendum committee, weapons disposal, public service transfer and infrastructure development and ensuring the three pillars of the autonomous government are achieved,” he said.

Kamma added he accompanied Deputy Prime Minister Leo Dion to Bougainville two weeks ago for the launching of the referendum committee by ABG President John Momis.

He said the committee’s work included the review of the autonomous arrangements which was a legal requirement under the Bougainville peace agreement.

SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS

6) Bougainville road accident claims seven lives

Posted at 05:55 on 20 March, 2013 UTC

A pregnant woman and her three children are among seven people confirmed dead in the Papua New Guinea province of Bougainville after their vehicle was swept away by floodwaters.

The Post Courier reports that the incident occurred at Rauravo River in the Kokoda constituency of Central Bougainville on Monday afternoon.

All seven were in a 10-seater Toyota Landcruiser ambulance belonging to a local health centre.

The four passengers who survived included the driver, a doctor, the husband of the pregnant woman and another woman.

The pregnant woman was due to give birth next month.

The paper reports the ambulance was found 300 metres down stream, stuck in a tree.

There has been extensive recent flooding in Bougainville and police have called for motorists to take extra precautions when negotiating river crossings.

Radio New Zealand International

7) Vanuatu Prime Minister resigns:


By Online Editor
7:16 pm GMT+12, 21/03/2013, Vanuatu

Vanuatu Prime Minister, facing no confidence vote, resigns

The Prime Minister of Vanuatu, Sato Kilman, who was to face a vote of no confidence this afternoon, has resigned.

The Speaker has told Parliament that a caretaker administration, led by Mr Kilman, will run the country until March the 29th when MPs will meet to elect a new prime minister.

However Radio New Zealand International correspondent reports that the Opposition leader, Edward Natapei, is seeking a court hearing to force parliament to sit today.

Natapei had claimed earlier this week that he had the numbers to vote Mr Kilman out of office – a claim  Kilman did not dispute.

SOURCE: RNZI/PACNEWS

8) Opposition 28, Government 21

Posted on March 21, 2013 – 9:59am | Category:

Featured Article

Politics

By
Godwin Ligo
KILMAN: One minute is a long time,and the government still have numbers to survive the motion on Thursday | NATAPEI: The Opposition will maintain the 28 Mps till Thursday to oust PM Kilman

When Parliament met yesterday at 4pm to discuss the establishment of committees and appointment of members of them; two government ministers namely Marcellino Pipite and Thomas Laken along with Port Vila MP Moana Carcasses, Ambae MP Richard Mwera, Port Vila MP Tony Wright, Port Vila MP Patrick Crowby, Tanna MP Morkin Stevens, Epi MP Robert Bonh, all moved to the Opposition side increasing the Opposition number from 18 to 28.

This leaves the government side with 21, excluding one government MP and Minister of Health, Don Ken, who was absent as he was on Malekula and Speaker of Parliament, George Wells.

Commenting to Daily Post immediately at the end of yesterday’s short afternoon session, Opposition Leader, Edward Nipake Natapei said: “We will maintain this number until Thursday and will topple Prime Minister Kilman.

“We expect few more MPs from the government side to cross over to join the Opposition by Thursday. The Opposition will maintain our number in our camp until Thursday,” Natapei told Daily Post.

On the question of who is going to be the next Prime Minister, Natapei replied: “I told Radio New Zealand today that I will not take up the position and I cannot comment at this stage as to who will be the next Prime Minister until Thursday,” said Natapei.

He dismissed rumours that VP and UMP intend to join the Sato Kilman-led government.

“It’s rumours and the Opposition maintains the number we have now until Thursday for a change of government,” he said.

Meanwhile Prime Minister, Sato Kilman, told Daily Post that one minute in politics is a long time.

He was commenting on the move by two of his cabinet ministers (Minister of Ni-Vanuatu Business and Minister for Justice) and government backbenchers moving to the Opposition yesterday afternoon
“In politics one minute is a long time. I want to let the government supporters know that my government still has the numbers and will defeat the motion on Thursday,” he said.

“I have always maintained that MPs and state ministers have their democratic and constitutional rights and I respect that.

“Thursday is the time for the motion. It will be then we will see who is supporting the government and who is supporting the Opposition.

“It’s their right to move from me but I still have the numbers despite the move this afternoon by two government ministers and government backbenchers,” Prime Minister Kilman remarked to Daily Post.

On the question of comments on disagreement amongst some of the parties’ leaders in a Caucus Meeting on Monday, Prime Minister Kilman replied: “All other political parties leaders in the coalition agreed with me except the Green Confederation Party leader, Moana Carcasses,” Kilman replied to Daily Post.
It remains to be seen on Thursday if the Opposition maintains the 28 MPs to topple Prime Minister Kilman or whether the government head will manoeuver in the next 24 hours to regain support of MPs from the Opposition back to the government side and remain at the helm.http://www.dailypost.vu/content/opposition-28-government-21

9) Vanuatu opposition wants court to reconvene House after Kilman resignation

Posted at 23:00 on 21 March, 2013 UTC

The Vanuatu opposition leader, Edward Natapei, says the Speaker has contravened the standing orders of parliament by not allowing an immediate vote for prime minister, following this afternoon’s resignation of Sato Kilman.

Mr Kilman, who was facing a vote of no confidence, resigned before any vote could be held.

The Speaker then adjourned the sitting and announced an extra-ordinary session on Thursday next week when the election of a new prime minister would be held.

Mr Kilman is leading a caretaker administration until then.

Mr Natapei says the adjournment is a delaying tactic and the opposition is seeking a court order to have parliament reconvene earlier.

“We suspect that they want to buy time so that they can start negotiating again, hopefully to try and get some of the members who are currently with us to cross the floor and build up their numbers so they can elect one of their members to become the prime minister. Unfortunately it is going to be a very difficult task for them.”

Radio New Zealand International

10) PM Kilman hemi bin spet long eye blong wind

Posted on April 26, 2011 – 1:29pm | Category:

Letters

Dear Editor,

Mi wantem sherem view blong mi long toktok we istap antap. Since we PM Kilman hemi bin successfully pass behind long former PM Natapei mo pulum daon kavman we hemi bin part long hem olsem Deputy PM long taem ia, Kilman mo Alliance bloc oli bin glad se naoia oli save kasem wish or demand blong olketa blong save kat wan or moa ministerial portfolio, mo bikwan moa we oli save kam blong lidim kavman we istap tedei.

Ikat wan toktok blong ol olfala se “taem yu spet, yu no mas spet iko long eye blong wind spos no bae spet blong yu ikam bak long feis blong yu”. Wise Tok ia noaia istap kam true long kavman blong PM Kilman folem ol motion blong no confidence we hemi stap fesem tedei.

PM Kilman mo Alliance Bloc oli se reason blong oli ko joinem opposition long las kavman blong sakemaot kavman blong Natapei, emi from intrest blong Alliance blong kat wan ministerial portfolio. Long taem ia PM Kilman mo Alliance oli luk se interest blong olketa i moa important mo kat high priority bitim interest blong Nation blong kat wan stable kavman. Oli save gud istap se wan yia nomo istap blong Vanuatu iko long jeneral election bakaken blong electem wan niu kavman, be instead blong oli stap quiet long kavman mo tekem intrest blong Nation ikam fastaem, oli luk overem interest blong Vanuatu long tingting blong formem wan niufala kavman from self intrest blong olketa.

Taem kavman blong PM Kilman ikam insaed hemi talem se hemi kavman blong pipol. Be hao nao bae yu save claim se yu stap sevem interest blong ol man Vanuatu taem lo fes ples yu bin iusum interest blong party blong wan political bloc blong kam ranem ol affairs blong Vanuatu?

Sori tumas be mi luk olsem PM Kilman hemi bin spet iko long eye blong wind from ol samting we hemi bin iusum blong sakemaot former PM oli stap kam bak blong sakemaot hem bakaken naoia.

PM Kilman i tokbaot interest blong nation blong kat wan stable kavman, be whu i causem instability fastaem taem hem mo Natapei ibin stap lidim kavman blong Vanuatu long previous kavman?

PM Kilman i talem se Natapei ino bin addressem issue blong West Papua taem hemi bin PM, olsem PM blong Vanuatu naoia hemi bin ko mekem wanem long Fiji taem Council of Ministers mo plante pipol blong Vanuatu oli no bin wantem se Indonesia ikam wan observer long MSG?

PM Kilman i talem se Kavman blong Natapei ino bin mitim interest blong Alliance long last kavman be sam MP we oli bin stap long saed blong hem fastaem naoia oli stap signem motion blong aotem kavman blong hem bakaken.

Olsem wanem hemi bin mitim interest blong evri political party long kavman blong hem?

Emia ol observations blong mi long political situation blong kavman blong Vanuatu since we kavman blong PM Kilman ikam insaed kasem tedei.

Sapos yu we yu ridim yu agri o no agri long hem o might yu kat wan nara lukluk blong yu wan, igud yumi sherem blong helpem ol lida blong yumi blong mekem se evritaem interest blong Nation we emi yumi ol man Vanuatu imas kam fastaem taem oli stap long Kavman.
Long God Yumi Stanap

Long God Vanuatu i bon, mo

Long God nomo kavman blong Vanuatu i mas stanap.

G.P.
7 *
Port Vila

http://www.dailypost.vu/content/pm-kilman-hemi-bin-spet-long-eye-blong-wind

11) Vanuatu Reserve Bank board member fired

Posted at 03:10 on 21 March, 2013 UTC

The Minister of Finance in Vanuatu, Charlot Salwai, has sacked Tom Bayer from the Reserve Bank’s board of directors.

Mr Bayer, who is a prominent accountant with ties to local political parties, is also a director of the European Investment Bank.

Mr Salwai says he terminated Mr Bayer from the board because of a conflict of interest.

He says the Reserve Bank Act clearly states that a board member cannot be a delegate of a commercial or financial institution at the same time.

The minister says as an agent of the European Investment Bank, Mr Bayer has to be removed from the Reserve Bank.

Radio New Zealand International


12) Gov’t receives supplementary Vt159million EU grant

Posted on March 22, 2013 – 9:54am |

The European Union (EU) has injected an additional grant of Vt159, 894,541 into the government coffers through the Office of the Prime Minister (PMO), the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry, Fisheries, and Bio-security (MALFFB) and Ministry of Trade, Commerce, Industry and Tourism (MTCIT).

This grant, received on March 7, 2013 complements the previous grant of Vt227, 932, 514 from the EU, for the period commencing September 13, 2012 to March 12, 2014.

These three Government leading agencies are coordinating specific components to ensure greater support is given to the development of the productive sector as engine for economic growth and creation of employment opportunities.

These additional grants would be used to focus on the following activities.

Under the Department of Strategic Planning and Aid Coordination in the PMO an additional Vt20, 264,080 has been allocated to: promote the Overarching Productive sector Policy to all key stakeholders, finalise the core functional and Public Expenditure analysis, develop the medium term expenditure planning approach, visibility and communication, small holder agriculture survey and develop the data base system for effective management of aid programs.

The additional Vt114, 494, 112 injected into MALFFB will be utilised to: develop Medium Term Strategy Plans for the four priority sub-sectors (Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries, Forestry), and review the system for staff and institutional performance appraisal for MAQFF and MTCIT.
It will also strengthen Legal and institutional arrangements for Bio-security, operational support to Vanuatu Chamber of Agriculture (VCA), establishing effective research and extension systems as well as in service training programme for research an extension staff.

To the MTCIT the additional Vt25, 136,349 which will be used to: enhance support trade mainstreaming via the provision of additional funds for meetings of the National Trade Development Committee and further support to visibility programme for trade policies in outer islands with the view of developing new projects for rural development which are aligned to with the Vanuatu Trade Policy Framework.

It will also cater for the designing of a Market Information system and review secondary cooperatives and propose policy options for their revival.

The government envisions the implementation of these activities will create conditions to support enhanced and sustained development of the productive sectors and help deepen the policy processes, improve capacity building and enable environment to grow, promote and sustain the productive sector as engine for investment.

It is now expected that support to policy and capacity building provided under Primary Sector Growth Support Programme (PSGSP), PSGSP will form the basis for more substantial and effective support to rural development initiatives under the 11th European Development Fund.

The supplementary funds are part of the PSGSP whose financing agreement was signed in March 2010 and which is managed by the three Ministries and coordinated by DSPPAC.

PSGSP funds are used to develop policies, support institutional capacity building and reinforce public policies to support primary sector development in Vanuatu.

The Vanuatu Government expresses its appreciation to the European Union for the support provided to the productive sectors, an area which the majority of the population depends upon for their food security and their livelihood.

The PMO is calling on all other key stakeholders including funding agencies to intensify equal support to grow and promote the productive sector.www.dailypost.vu

13) Suicide in Philippines

Posted on March 20, 2013 –

By
Len Garae

Vanuatu Consul to the Philippines Sampson Ngwele has confirmed the first suicide case of one of the students studying in the Asian country last weekend.

In an urgent email under the heading “Sad news” to the Director General of Education, Jesse Dick, the Consul said first year student George Wilbur “committed suicide last (Saturday) evening between six and seven pm by hanging himself in his shower room.

He said, “He (victim) was rushed to hospital but unfortunately he died even before he was discovered”.

Ngwele said the shipment of his body is expected to take place this week, hopefully on Saturday via Qantas to Sydney and connecting the Air Vanuatu flight on Sunday.

No further details of any event surrounding his death were included in the Consul’s email. www.dailypost.vu

14) Fiji Military size can only be increased: Tikoitoga
By Online Editor
4:52 pm GMT+12, 20/03/2013, Fiji

The size of the Republic of Fiji Military Force (RFMF) can only be increased and not decreased, says RFMF Land Force Commander Colonel Mosese Tikoitoga.

Tikoitoga was responding to comments in a research conducted by the Pacific Theological College’s Institute for Research and Social Analysis titled “Voices of the People: Perceptions and Preconditions for Democratic Development in Fiji”.

The research showed differing views that Fijians wanted the size of the military to be downsized and that the influence of the military needed to be removed. The views from the research were from people of various backgrounds, including past and present politicians from different political parties and former military commanders.

Speaking to FijiLive Tikoitoga said the size of the RFMF corresponds with their role in Fiji and their obligation as good international citizens.

“You take the number of the Australia Defence Force and the NZ Defence force and weigh that against the international obligation. You will find that they are more internal focused,” said Tikoitoga.

“Which means that they have a defence force to defend their territory, their interests and their way of life,” he said.

“They have very limited deployment capability for the UN and other peace keeping initiatives and the RFMF has only approximately 3,500 members.”

“We like the Australians and the Kiwis also defence our sovereignty, our territory, our interests and our way of life. But in addition we also deploy people to Iraq, Egypt, and Sudan.”

“As any deployment ratio, for every soldier you deploy you must have another two in training ready to replace them. Australia and NZ like many other countries just do not have the political will nor the human resource capability to be able to meet international obligations for Peace keeping over an extended period of time.”

“For Fiji we have been doing this continuously since 1978, and that is now 35 years. The RFMF size can only be increased and not decreased.”.

SOURCE: FIJILIVE/PACNEWS

15) Fiji government scraps Constituent Assembly

Updated 21 March 2013, 21:35 AEST
Pacific correspondent Campbell Cooney

The government in Fiji has scrapped the Constituent Assembly, which was to have considered a draft constitution.

Fiji’s interim Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama, says there will no longer be a Constituent Assembly to prepare the country’s constitution. (Credit: ABC licensed)

The government in Fiji has scrapped the Constituent Assembly, which was to have considered a draft constitution.

In an address to the nation on Wednesday, Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said the people would be the new Constituent Assembly and would make suggestions about the document directly to the interim government.

He says the draft constitution will see Fiji having a single Chamber House, comprising 45 MPs elected for a four-year term under a mixed member proportional electoral system, similar to that of New Zealand.

In January Fiji’s military-backed regime scrapped a draft constitution written after national consultations, saying it was not suitable.

It called for a new draft – and the writing of a final document – to be overseen by a Constituent Assembly.

Commodore Bainimarama has announced the draft is now ready, but there would no longer be a Constituent Assembly.

Audio: Fijian prime minister on ‘new Constituent Assembly'(ABC News)

“Instead of presenting the draft to the Constituent Assembly under the previous arrangement, we will be presenting it directly to you,” he said.

“You will be the new Constituent Assembly.”

Commodore Bainimarama was also critical of Fiji’s political parties, blaming them for the demise of the promised Assembly.

He has given the people of Fiji a fortnight to provide feedback on the draft document.radioaustralia.net.au

16) Draft’s out

Nanise Loanakadavu
Friday, March 22, 2013

People watch the Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama address the nation on Fiji One last night. Picture: MICHELE WILSON

FIJI’s draft constitution has been released.

Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama released the draft document yesterday.

And instead of presenting the draft document to the Constituent Assembly, under the previous arrangement, he said it would be presented directly to the people.

He said the general public had until April 5 to provide feedback on the draft document.

“My fellow Fijians, you will be the new Constituent Assembly,” he said last night.

Commodore Bainimarama said the constitutional process that he commenced with the Ghai Commission was modified.

This, he said, was done to ensure that the fundamental principles of parliamentary representation and efficient and transparent government were implemented through a forward-looking constitution.

He said next week government would hold a number of community forums at which members of the public and representatives of organisations could attend to ask government’s legal team questions on any aspect of the draft constitution.

He said as seen through the constitutional submissions, many Fijians were concerned about their day-to-day living and access to better facilities and utilities.

Following these consultations and the general public’s feedback, he said they would finalise the constitution to have it ready for implementation no later than April 12 this year.

Commodore Bainimarama said the draft constitution had rights to housing and sanitation, reasonable access to transportation, adequate food and water and social security schemes.

Some of the highlights of the key components of the draft constitution are:

* Sovereign control to a single house in Parliament, which is represented by members elected by the people; and

* Parliament shall be made up of 45 representatives for a four-year term.

Commodore Bainimarama said some key components of the draft are:

* To attract good quality and honest parliamentarians who will be paid accordingly and who will not be corrupt;

* provide for not only civil and political rights, but also, a wide range of socio-economic rights.

* gives specific rights to persons with disabilities and to children;

* create a secular State where citizens are treated equally regardless of religion;

* has proportional representation through a multi member constituency which will give enhanced opportunities for women and the youth to be in Parliament;

* give more independence to the judiciary to control their own budget and finances as approved by Parliament. FICAC and the DPPs office shall control their own affairs;

* create a Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Commission to give protection to all citizens irrespective of their backgrounds or socio-economic status;

* create an independent Electoral Commission with appropriate powers; and

* gives people the right to change the constitution once implemented via a referendum.

Commodore Bainimarama, however, urged the general public to read the draft document which would be available in all government outlets.

“In assessing the draft, please understand that it has been put together by incorporating the positive aspects of the Ghai draft and with the view to withstand the test of time,” he said.

“Constitutional, political and economic stability is critical to create a prosperous Fiji.

http://www.fijitimes.com/story.aspx?id=228619

17) Fiji people have two weeks to comment on draft constitution after assembly is canned

Posted at 23:00 on 21 March, 2013 UTC

People in Fiji have a fortnight to give their views on the regime’s draft constitution.

The regime’s draft document has been released and leader Commodore Frank Bainimarama says people should give their views on it directly to the government.

Sally Round reports.

“The long awaited draft will be published in the Fiji Sun and is already online. People are being urged to read it, discuss it and debate the wide ranging document which comprises nearly one hundred pages. Commodore Bainimarama says people can write in, email, text or post their comments to the government’s Facebook page. it will also hold several community meetings. Explanatory notes will be published in coming days. The regime leader will also hold talkback sessions on local radio. No details have been given on how the feedback will be collated or analysed. the final constitution is due out on twelth of april.”

Radio New Zealand International

Australia:

18) Gillard dismisses Abbott’s early election threat

Updated 22 March 2013, 10:39 AEST

Julia Gillard dismisses Tony Abbott’s threat to try to force an early election as Rudd backer Chris Bowen falls on his sword in the wake of yesterday’s farcical Labor leadership spill.

Julia Gillard has dismissed Tony Abbott’s threat to try to force an early election in the wake of yesterday’s farcical Labor leadership spill.

As Parliament rises for a seven-week break, Labor is counting the cost of a turbulent day which once again put the party’s divisions on public display.

Kevin Rudd’s leadership hopes finally look to have been laid to rest after the former prime minister waited until 10 minutes before the spill to announce that he would not be running.

Audio: Julia Gillard speaks to Jon Faine (ABC News)

Ms Gillard was re-elected unopposed as Labor leader and is now expected to reshuffle her frontbench positions to get rid of Mr Rudd’s key backers.

This morning Rudd backer Chris Bowen confirmed he was quitting the ministry after “a difficult day for the Labor party.”

Yesterday two Labor frontbenchers and three party whips were forced out of their roles, with Simon Crean, who kick-started the spill, the most high-profile casualty.

Today Ms Gillard said she expected more people to be considering their positions.

“A farcical performance under the Canberra big top”: Read Barrie Cassidy on the Labor leadership spill.

As Labor MPs head back to their electorates to lick their wounds, the Opposition Leader has warned the Coalition will try to move a motion of no confidence in the Government when Parliament resumes on May 14.

He told AM the Opposition would need support from all seven crossbenchers in the Lower House for the motion to pass, a result which would trigger an election.

“We’ve still got a Government which is paralysed. We’ve still got a civil war inside the Government,” he said.

“It will be up to the independent members to look into their consciences, to consult with their electorates.

“I think their electorates will say, we want the people to choose the government and the prime minister. We are sick of backroom deals. We’re sick of the faceless men.”

A vote to hold a motion of no confidence in the Prime Minister failed to pass the House of Representatives amid the turmoil yesterday because it did not get an absolute majority.

But this morning independent Tony Windsor said he backed Mr Abbott’s “right” to test the waters with a wider motion of no confidence in the government itself.

“I said to Tony Abbott over the last two-and-a-half years, if you think the House doesn’t have confidence in the Prime Minister or the Government, test the marketplace,” he said.

“That’s the first time yesterday that he’s actually attempted to do that.

“If he does it again, I will support his right to seek leave to test the confidence of the House.

“I want to see it tested too. Let’s see how the numbers stack up. Obviously he will probably do that next time the Parliament resumes.”

But Ms Gillard dismissed the no-confidence threat when she spoke to ABC Melbourne’s Jon Faine this morning.

“I’ve heard Mr Abbott huff and puff about no confidence motions on many occasions and it never comes to anything,” she said.

“By the time we come back in May we won’t hear anything more of it.”

Ms Gillard said the message from yesterday was that the leadership issue was “over, it’s clearly over”.

“There was an opportunity, the opportunity wasn’t used,” she said.

“Anyone who comes into a journalist’s office in the future from the Labor party claiming to have the numbers will be met with gales of laughter.”

Has the hung Parliament been unworkable? James Glenday on two-and-a-half bruising years in Canberra.

Ms Gillard said she was working on the reshuffle and “there will be a few more people considering their position”.

Former immigration minister Mr Bowen became the first minister to fall on his sword this morning, but said he would stay in politics to stand again at the next election.

[Yesterday] I took the decision that the best thing for the Labor Party and Australia would be for Kevin Rudd to return to the prime ministership,” Mr Bowen said.

“Having expressed that view… [and] after discussing the matter with my wife and close friends I decided to resign from the Gillard cabinet.”

Speaking from Washington DC, Foreign Affairs Minister Bob Carr said he expected Ms Gillard’s position to be made stronger after the events of Thursday.

Offering his “unqualified support” for Ms Gillard, he said: “I think she has renewed and affirmed her leadership.”

Treasurer Wayne Swan said the Coalition threatened the no-confidence tactic repeatedly, without success.

“This is the tactic that [Mr Abbott] used for about the first year of the life of the Government – almost every day in the House moving a suspension of standing orders which he could never win,” he said.

“And that’s all that happened yesterday. He had the hide to claim in the media yesterday there was some sort of vote on confidence in the House. That is simply not true.” radioaustralia.net.au/internationa

Tok Pisin:(Papua NiuGini,Bougainville,Solomon Islands & Vanuatu)

19) Sato Kilman i risain olsem Vanuatu PM

Updated 21 March 2013, 18:07 AEST
Campbell Cooney/Emma Younger

Prime Minister blong Vanuatu, i resain tede taim oposisan i redi long muvim mosen blong no-confidence agensim em.

Sato Kilman i risain olsem Prime Minister (Credit: Reuters)

Pacific Correspondent blong Radio Australia, Campbell Cooney i ripo olsem mosen ia oli blockim long palamen na oposisan i tingting long kisim ol long kot long oli save muvim.

Spika blong palamen George Wells itok mosen ia em ino stret long wanem Kilman i no stap olsem prime minister long wanem em ibin risain pastaim long oli muvim mosen ia.

Oposisan ibin gat 28 sapota long palamen, na oli laik iusim hae kot long fosim spika long gohet wantaim dispela mosen blong no-confidence.

Oposisan memba, Ralph Regenvanu, ibin tok igat igat planti risin blong dispela mosen.

Mr Regenvanu itok em i inkludim sampela samting we pime minister ino i feil long wokim…olsem long stopim korap pasin long gavman.

Wanpela tu em i long director general blong Ministry blong Internal Affairs i givim kontrak blong prosesim ol visa long wanpela kampani blong em yet.

Oposisan em laik tu long Vanuatu gavman i rausim cooperation agrimen wantaim Indonesia.

Oli laik tu long Vanuatu i muv long rausim observer memba blong Indonesia long Melanesian Spearhead Group na i mekim West Papua i kamap ful memba long MSG.

Stat long 2008 ibin igat sevenpela senis long gavman tasol igat senis long praime minister tripela taim tasol.

Oposisan lida, Edward Natapei itok em i laik lukim niupela fes nau i kamap prime minister blong Vanuatu so sapos oli win long mosen blong no-confidence, bai em ino sanap kandidet blong prime minister.

Bahasa: (West Papua,Maluku,Flores,Sumba,Timor)

20) Kepala polisi syariah Aceh dituding ‘high’ waktu tabrakan

Diperbaharui 20 March 2013, 14:47 AEST

Kepala polisi Syariah di Aceh dituding sedang terpengaruh ganja sewaktu mobilnya tabrakan.

Koran Aceh Post melaporkan, kepala polisi Syariah, Zulkarnain, dibawa ke rumahsakit setelah mobilnya menabrak pohon.

Seorang polisi yang tiba di tempat kejadian mengatakan kepada Aceh Post bahwa ia menemukan ganja dalam mobil.

Kepala detektif narkoba di Aceh mengatakan, pemeriksaan urine Zulkarnain kemudian juga hasilnya positif untuk ganja.

Dilaporkan Zulkarnain membantah menggunakan narkoba, yang dilarang keras dibawah hukum Syariah.

21) Indonesia bongkar operasi penyelundupan manusia

Terbit 20 March 2013, 13:03 AEST

Satuan tugas anti penyelundupan manusia Indonesia membongkar suatu operasi yang bersiap-siap untuk mengirim 80 pencari suaka ke Australia.

Satuan tugas anti penyelundupan manusia di Jawa Timur mengatakan, seorang warga Palestina yang dikenal dengan nama Hussein telah ditangkap.

Diantara para calon penumpang terdapat 20 anak-anak dan 11 perempuan, tapi sebagian besar dibebaskan karena memegang visa yang berlaku di Indonesia.

Menurut jurubicara satgas itu, Wiji Suwartini, Hussein berusia 30-an tahun dan beristerikan orang Indonesia.

Ia ditangkap di Tuban, Jawa Timur, dan dibawa ke Surabaya, dimana pihak berwenang menunggu bantuan penterjemah untuk bisa menginterogasinya menyangkut operasi tersebut.

Dipahami para calon penumpangitu berasal dari Iran dan Irak, dan mereka sedang bersiap-siap untuk pergi ke Australia dengan kapal.

Franis:(New Caledonia,Vanuatu,Tahiti & Wallis & Futuna)

22) Papouasie occidentale : la mouche du coche

Posté à 22 March 2013, 9:17 AEST
Pierre Riant

La province indonésienne de Papouasie occidentale suscite de nombreuses divisions au Vanuatu mais aussi en Indonésie et à l’intérieur même de la Papouasie occidentale.

Une mère et son enfant près de Jayapura en Papouasie occidentale. [ABC TV] (Credit: ABC)

Au Vanuatu, un pays mélanésien, une question de politique étrangère est devenue une question de politique intérieure. Cette semaine, la Papouasie occidentale, une province à majorité chrétienne et mélanésienne,  a donné lieu à des prises de bec entre l’opposition et le gouvernement.

Le chef de l’opposition, Edward Natapei, a demandé au gouvernement d’exclure l’Indonésie du Groupe Mélanésien Fer de Lance (GMFL), où elle a un statut d’observateur depuis 2011. Pour M. Natapei, c’est la Papouasie occidentale qui devrait devenir membre à part entière du GMFL.

Mais au niveau gouvernemental, Le Premier ministre, Sato Kilman, estime que l’Indonésie a toute sa place en tant qu’observateur au sein du Groupe Mélanésien Fer de Lance tandis que la population, les électeurs seraient plutôt sympathiques à l’égard des Mélanésiens de la province indonésienne.

Nous avons soumis cette équation Professeur Jon Fraekel de l’Université Victoria de Wellington en Nouvelle-Zéalnde.

FRAEKEL : «  Cela arrive souvent que des questions de politique internationale soient débattues sur le terrain de la politique intérieure dans des États Mélanésiens. C’est le cas en ce moment au Vanuatu entre le gouvernement et l’opposition  et c’est aussi le cas à Fidji avec le gouvernement de Frank Bainimarama.

Si le gouvernement du Vanuatu s’éloigne de la cause des sécessionnistes de Papouasie occidentale, c’est en premier dû à une résurgence de la diplomatie indonésienne dans la région. C’est aussi dû aux changements survenus en Indonésie au cours de ces 10 dernières années avec cette tendance à la démocratisation. Et troisièmement, c’est aussi dû à une prise de conscience de la complexité de la situation au niveau politique que représentent la Papouasie et la Papouasie occidentale en Indonésie. »

Et bien justement parlons-en.  Comme je le disais, les populations mélanésiennes du Pacifique sont en générale plutôt favorables aux Mélanésiens de Papouasie occidentale mais peu de gens sont au courant de ce qui se passe en Indonésie et dans la province indonésienne de Papouasie occidentale. La réponse de Jon Fraekel.

FRAEKEL : « Oui, je pense qu’en Mélanésie il n’y a pas une grande connaissance de ce qui se passe à l’intérieur de l’Indonésie et de la Papouasie occidentale. Il faut dire que les contacts s’établissent plutôt avec des représentants du mouvement indépendantiste. Mais il y a différents courants d’opinions à l’intérieur du Mouvement pour la Papouasie occidentale. Certains désirent davantage d’autonomie et sont alliés avec les forces indonésiennes.

Une chose est certaine, le mouvement indépendantiste est fort et les consultations électorales ont montré beaucoup de soutien à position indépendantiste à l’intérieur de la Papouasie occidentale. Mais il y a d’autres positions, notamment ceux en faveur d’un ajustement et de négociations avec Jakarta. »

Et en Indonésie, il semblerait que de nombreux Indonésiens ont été traumatisés par l’indépendance du Timor oriental de l’Indonésie en 2002 et qu’une séparation de la Papouasie occidentale de l’Indonésie est inconcevable ?

FRAEKEL : «  Le sentiment qui prévaut est que la Papouasie occidentale est au cœur de l’Indonésie et que effectivement la nation indonésienne est inconcevable sans la Papouasie occidentale.  Ça pourrait changer si le mouvement indépendantiste se renforce ou si cela crée davantage de difficultés en Indonésie.  Mais c’est très important pour les militaires et l’élite politique de garder la Papouasie occidentale. »

Une mère et son enfant près de Jayapura en Papouasie occidentale. [ABC TV]

23) Papouasie Occidentale: Fidji acquis à l’Indonésie

Mis à jour 20 March 2013, 15:59 AEST
Caroline Lafargue

Depuis quelques semaines, les politiques mélanésiens prennent position sur la lutte des indépendantistes.

En Papouasie Occidentale depuis des mois, c’est l’escalade de la violence. Mais dans les pays voisins, les choses changent. Les peuples mélanésiens ont toujours été solidaires avec le mouvement indépendantiste papou en Indonésie, mais leurs gouvernements, eux, sont traditionnellement bien plus prudents. Ils veillent à ne pas fâcher la grande Indonésie voisine. Depuis quelques semaines cependant, les politiques mélanésiens prennent position.

En Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée, il y a 10 jours, le gouverneur de la capitale-province Port Moresby, Powes Parkop, a organisé un grand concert pour la libération de la Papouasie Occidentale, à l’occasion de la visite de Benny Wenda, le chef indépendantiste en exil au Royaume-Uni et fondateur de la Campagne pour la Libération de la Papouasie Occidentale, qui ouvrira un bureau à Port-Moresby prochainement.
On écoute l’analyse de Jason McLeod, chercheur à l’Université du Queensland:

«Avant Peter O’Neill, les autres Premiers ministres ne prenaient pas position pour les indépendantistes papous, c’était tout le contraire, ils soutenaient l’Indonésie. Mais depuis l’arrivée d’O’Neill il semble que les choses soient en train de changer. Ce sont les femmes de l’Eglise Luthérienne, celle à laquelle appartient le Premier ministre Peter O’Neill, qui le poussent à défendre officiellement la cause des indépendantistes papous. Et à la surprise de beaucoup d’observateurs, il s’est exprimé publiquement sur la question. Et maintenant Powes Parkop, le gouverneur de Port-Moresby fait pression sur O’Neill pour qu’ils organisent une visite officielle en Papouasie. Ce sont des signes très encourageants.»

Notons qu’au cours de sa tournée mondiale, Benny Wenda s’est rendu en Nouvelle-Zélande, où le Parlement a refusé de le laisser faire un discours, pour, selon les Verts néo-zélandais, ne pas fâcher les Indonésiens, importants partenaires commerciaux de la Nouvelle-Zélande.

Au Vanuatu demain, l’opposition soumettra au vote sa motion de défiance à l’encontre du Premier ministre Sato Kilman. L’un des motifs avancés : le rapprochement de Sato Kilman avec le gouvernement indonésien. Edward Natapei, le chef de l’opposition vanuataise, demande l’exclusion de l’Indonésie du Groupe Mélanésien Fer de Lance, et l’intégration de la Papouasie Occidentale comme membre de plein droit. Il y a cependant peu de chances que cela aboutisse, estime Jason Mc Leod :

«C’est peu probable pour le moment. Ce sont les dirigeants des pays mélanésiens qui auront le dernier mot. Or Franck Bainimarama, le Premier ministre fidjien, occupe en ce moment la présidence tournante du Groupe Mélanésien Fer de Lance, et il est très proche de l’Indonésie. Fidji reçoit beaucoup d’aide de l’Indonésie. Il faut savoir que Fidji et l’Indonésie mènent ensemble des exercices militaires. Et je ne pense pas que les pays du Pacifique aient envie de faire pression sur Franck Bainimarama pour qu’il accepte d’intégrer la Papouasie Occidentale et d’exclure l’Indonésie.»

Verdict en juillet lors du prochain sommet du Groupe Mélanésien Fer de Lance, organisé en Nouvelle-Calédonie.

L’Australien Jason Mc Leod, chercheur à l’Université du Queensland, au micro de Richard Ewart sur Radio Australie. Il est aussi militant engagé dans la cause des indépendantistes papous d’Indonésie. radioaustralia.net.au

24) Julia Gillard reste à son poste

Posté à 22 March 2013, 9:06 AEST
Pierre Riant

Après-midi très tendue hier pour la Première ministre australienne, Julia Gillard.

Après des semaines de spéculations associées aux dissensions des Travaillistes au pouvoir concernant la capacité de Mme Gillard à remporter les prochaines élections et après des sondages d’opinion défavorables à la Première ministre australienne, un poids lourd du Parti travailliste, Simon Crean, a réclamé un vote de confiance des députés travaillistes pour confirmer ou rejeter la légitimité de Mme Gillard à son poste.

Peu après, la Première ministre n’a pas eu d’autres choix que d’appeler à un scrutin en convoquant les députés à 16h30.

10 minutes avant le vote, Kevin Rudd, l’ancien Premier ministre renversé par Mme Gillard  lors d’un scrutin similaire en 2010, a annoncé à la grande déception de ses partisans sous le choc qu’il ne serait pas candidat au poste de Premier ministre. M. Rudd, est très populaire dans les derniers sondages  avec plus de 60% des personnes interrogées qui le préféreraient au poste de Premier ministre.

M. Rudd avait promis de ne plus briguer le poste de Premier ministre pendant le mandat de Julia Gillard et a souligné son intention de tenir cette promesse

Résultat, personne ne s’est présentée contre Julian Guillard réélue sans opposition.

Quant à Simon Crean, il a été limogé de son poste de ministre du Développement régional.radioaustralia.net.au

25) Australie: la tuberculose résistante tue une première patiente

Mis à jour 20 March 2013, 15:58 AEST
Caroline Lafargue

Très contagieuse, Catherina Abraham a passé une année complète en isolement septique, pour un traitement qui a coûté en tout un million de dollars à l’Australie.

Le bacille de Koch – bactérie responsable de la tuberculose – grossie 15 549 fois. (CDC/Dr. Ray Butler, Janice Carr)

Jeudi dernier cette jeune Papoue de 20 ans est morte d’une tuberculose résistante aux traitements dans un hôpital de Cairns, la grande ville tout au nord du Queensland.

C’est le premier décès sur le sol australien d’un patient atteint de tuberculose résistante aux traitements. On parle depuis des années de la menace réelle que représente le foyer infectieux de la Province Ouest en Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée, directement limitrophe de l’Australie. Les deux pays ne sont séparés que par l’étroit Détroit des Iles de Torrès.

Et Catherina Abraham a contracté la tuberculose sur l’île frontalière de Daru, en Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée.

Fin 2011 le ministère de la santé du Queensland a fermé les cliniques sur Saibai et Boigu, les îles australiennes du Détroit de Torrès à 5 km des côtes papoues. Objectif : enrayer l’afflux de patients sur le sol australien, donc tenir éloignée la menace de contagion, en confiant le traitement des tuberculeux au gouvernement papou, dotés de fonds importants par l’Australie. Le député Libéral du Détroit de Torrès dénonce la fermeture des cliniques australiennes. Warren Entsch :

«Pourquoi Catherina a-t-elle d’abord été refusée à la clinique de Saibai, et pourquoi n’a-t-elle alors pas tenté de se faire soigner à Daru, en Papouasie Nouvelle-Guinée ? Pourquoi a-t-elle du attendre un mois, pendant lequel la maladie s’est installée, pour finalement réussir à se faire soigner à Cairns ?»

Le taux de survie à une tuberculose résistante aux traitements est de 1 sur 2. 3000 Papous meurent de la tuberculose chaque année. La fermeture des cliniques australiennes du Détroit de Torrès a créé un vide, estime le pneumologue Graham Simpson, l’un des médecins de Cairns qui ont tenté de sauver Catherina Abraham.

«Ces sept dernières années, nous avons vu défiler beaucoup de malades à un stade déjà très avancé dans nos cliniques, des tuberculeux qui étaient littéralement à l’article de la mort. Les plus malades d’entre eux étaient transportés à l’hôpital de Cairns. Et cela permettait de sauver des vies. Mais ces tuberculeux ont disparu, on n’en entend plus parler. Donc je me demande ce qu’il advient de ces cohortes de mourants. Je ne pense pas que les services de santé papous soient capables de les soigner. Alors je me demande ce qu’ils deviennent.»

Le Dr Graham Simpson, au micro de Katie Hamann sur l’ABC. Les services de santé du Queensland se refusent pour l’instant à tout commentaire.

World:

26) Obama tells Israelis to see world through Palestinians’ eyes

Updated 22 March 2013, 8:02 AEST
By correspondent Norman Hermant, wires

US president Barack Obama has used a televised speech to tell Israelis that the Palestinian people must have the right to self-determination.

On the second day of his visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories, Mr Obama paid a flying visit to Ramallah to speak with Palestinian leaders, including president Mahmoud Abbas.

But the visit to Ramallah was in many ways a warm-up for the main event back in Jerusalem: a nationally televised speech by Mr Obama to the Israeli people about peace and an independent state for the Palestinians.

He told his audience that the status quo with the Palestinians was not sustainable.

“Put yourself in their shoes,” he said.

“Look at the world through their eyes. It is not fair that a Palestinian child cannot grow up in a state of their own.

“Just as Israelis built a state in their homeland, Palestinians have a right to be a free people in their own land.”

Mr Obama argued that the Jewish state’s destiny and ultimate survival could never be assured without a final peace deal.

“Peace is necessary. Indeed it is the only path to true security,” he said.

In Ramallah, Palestinian leaders doubted Mr Obama would bring concrete proposals for peace, and they were right.

Video: Barack Obama says he has not lost hope in achieving a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians.(ABC News)

Even on the contentious issue of a settlement freeze in the occupied West Bank, the US president echoed the Israeli position, saying it was another issue for the bargaining table.

“If the expectation is that we can only have direct negotiations when everything is settled ahead of time, then there’s no point for negotiations,” he said.

That was not what Mr Abbas wanted to hear.

“Settlements are illegal and all of the settlement activities are not legal,” he said.

Despite the tight cordon of security in Ramallah, around 150 Palestinian protesters could be seen trying to get near, shouting “Obama, you’re not welcome here!” and “Obama, get out of Ramallah!”

Hours before leaving for Ramallah, the complications which would test any new US peace effort were underlined whentwo rockets fired by militants in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip slammed into southern Israel.

In only the second such attack since November, the rockets hit in Sderot, a border town which Mr Obama visited on a previous trip to Israel as a presidential candidate in 2008.

Mr Obama condemned the attack and said the territory’s Hamas rulers were responsible for stopping it.

“We saw the continuing threat from Gaza again overnight with the rockets which targeted Sderot,” he said.

“We condemn this violation of this important ceasefire that protects both Israelis and Palestinians, a violation that Hamas has a responsibility to prevent.”

The hardline Salafist Aknaf Bayt al-Maqdis group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

ABC/AFP

Business:

27) PNG government will take over OK Tedi mine from 2014
By Online Editor
5:15 pm GMT+12, 21/03/2013, Papua New Guinea

The partnership between the government and Ok Tedi Mining Ltd (OTML) is over, Papua New Guinea Prime Minister Peter O’Neill told parliament Wednesday.

He said the government would take over the running of the mine when OTML’s licence expired at the end of this year and turn it into a model operation for the benefit of the people.

OTML has been seeking to extend the mine’s life and wanted to continue operating it from 2015 to 2025.

O’Neill told parliament yesterday during question time that the government would not renew the licences of the mine developer and would not be part of any agreement for an extension to the life of the mine.

“The marriage is not working,” he said.

“The government will break its partnership or marriage with OTML,” he said.

He said the state would own and operate the mine through PNG Sustainable Development Program Ltd (PNGSDP).

He said he had written to OTML informing it that the government could not support or allow the company to extend the life of the mine.

“When the lease expires, this government, as a partner and director, will not allow or grant an extension.

“Like all marriages, we have to break it if it does not work. BHP has to move on.

“I will not apologise to anyone, not even to BHP,” the prime minister said.

The government would operate the mine for the people of Western and address the ongoing problems in the province such as poor health facilities, education and other development needs.

O’Neill said the government, a trustee through PNGSDP, would take over the operation of the mine and make it a model for others in PNG.

“We will restructure the board of PNGSDP with our own people managing it, not by strange people who live beyond and do not know our needs.”

OK Tedi Mine Impacted Area Association president Nick Bunn has welcomed the government’s decision not to allow mine life extension.

PNG Sustainable Development Program (PNGSDP) and Ok Tedi Mining Ltd (OTML) chairman Sir Mekere Morauta declined to comment.

OTML managing director and chief executive Nigel Parker told The National he was aware of the prime minister’s statement in parliament “but was unable to make further comment at this stage as it was a matter concerning the state of Papua New Guinea and PNG Sustainable Development Program Ltd, as the shareholders of Ok Tedi Mining Ltd”.

“This is a blessing for the people of Western,” Bunn said. “This is exactly what we have been advocating.”.

SOURCE: THE NATIONAL/PACNEWS

28) $342m injection into Fiji’s economy
By Online Editor
2:14 pm GMT+12, 20/03/2013, Fiji

New Zealand companies injected $342million (US$191 million) into the local economy from 2005 to 2010, adding mileage to its third spot ranking as one of Fiji’s top five investors behind China and Australia.

Speaking at the Fiji-New Zealand trade and investment mission seminar at the Tanoa Plaza in Suva yesterday, Ministry of Industry and Trade permanent secretary Shaheen Ali said New Zealand had a long and positive history of trade with Fiji, noting more than $287million(US$160 million) worth of exports were traded to Fiji.

“Fiji is New Zealand’s largest export partner in the Pacific while New Zealand is a key investment partner,” he said.

“Fiji’s close proximity to New Zealand makes it a perfect market and a natural trading partner.

“Fiji not only offers a market of 800,000 people but as a regional hub, provides access (duty free) to a market of over nine million around the Pacific.

“Fiji is generating a strong interest among New Zealand investors.”

Acting head of mission at the Fiji High Commission in Wellington, Mere Tora, said 12 business delegates were part of the seminar — five were Fijian diaspora living in New Zealand while the other seven were potential investors.

“They have connections to Asia and that goes with our current foreign policy of looking north. We can get leverage to other markets,” she said.

“This kind of mission and focus group is very important. I expect some real outcomes after this seminar.

“They are business people so seeing what is really on the ground will help them make up their minds about investing in Fiji.”

She said trade agreements with New Zealand were organised by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.

“We’ve got the NZ-Fiji Business Council and a sister organisation called the Fiji-NZ Business Council so interaction has already been established.

“But these businessmen are here and we want to show them what’s here, encourage them to invest and trade with businesses in Fiji.”

The initiative includes site visits to various businesses in Suva followed by one-on-one business meetings tomorrow.

SOURCE: FIJI TIMES/PACNEWS


29) EU introduces illegal timber import controls

By Online Editor
4:39 pm GMT+12, 20/03/2013, Belgium

Measures to prevent illegally harvested timber from entering the European Union come into force on Sunday 03 March.

The EU Timber Regulation (EUTR) requires importers or sellers of timber and wood products to keep records of the sources of their supplies.

Interpol estimates that illegal logging contributes up to 30% of timber in the global market, costing in excess of 15bn euros ($20bn/£13bn) each year.

The EU accounts for 35% of the world’s primary timber consumption.

The law, which was adopted by the European Parliament and Council back in October 2010, is only just coming into force because of the measures member states and private companies had to put in place.

Operators, which refers to “those who first place a timber product on the EU market” – through a “due diligence” system – are required to “make every effort to ensure that the wood they trade in is legal”.

The due diligence system (DDS) comprises three elements, including access to information relating to shipments’ country of origin, quantity and suppliers’ details; evaluation that the timber was produced in compliance with the laws of the country of origin; taking additional steps to ensure the legality of the timber if there is any doubt over its provenance.

In addition, the EUTR requires traders (“those who sell or buy the timber already on the EU market”) to keep “adequate information so that the wood they deal in can be easily traced”.

Officials say the new law covers a wide range of products, from paper and pulp to solid wood and flooring, and forms a part of ongoing efforts to help tackle the global problem of illegal logging.

Illegal logging is defined as the harvesting of wood that breaches the laws or regulations of the country of origin.

The European Union says it has “severe economic, environmental and social impacts for some of the world’s most valuable remaining forests and the billions of people that rely on them.”
In 2012, Interpol and the UN launched Project Leaf, an initiative to combat illegal logging and organised forest crime.

In February, Interpol said almost 200 people had been arrested in a wide-ranging international anti-illegal logging operation.

The global anti-crime agency added that the three-month effort spanned 12 Central and South American countries, and $8m (£5.2m) worth of timber had been seized.

Environmental group WWF says much of the illegally traded timber comes from central Africa and South-East Asia, with a “significant proportion” being processed in China and Hong Hong before being shipped to EU nations, particularly the UK.

“This is a landmark piece of legislation, which for the first time gives us a real chance to tackle the negative impact that our indiscriminate trade in timber and wood products has had on forests globally,” said Beatrix Richards, WWF-UK’s forest campaigner.

But WWF added that the legislation did not cover forest management systems.

“Even though a wood product may be legal, it does not mean that it has been produced without destroying valuable forest ecosystems,” it noted.

“Implementing green public procurement policy to ensure the purchase of sustainable timber and products in public supply contracts across the member states will remain essential.”

Senior campaigner at Global Witness Alexandra Pardal said the new measures meant that timber importers would “have to up their game”.

“For decades, consumer countries have been driving the demand for cheap, illegal timber that breeds corruption and criminality in forested countries while taking a devastating toll on the environment,” she told BBC News.

“Almost all timber from tropical rainforests carries a high risk of such illegality and should be checked out thoroughly – if there’s any suspicion at all, don’t touch it.”

On Monday, Global Witness is set to publish a report that highlights the extent of the challenges of halting the arrival of illegal timber in the EU.

Asia Pulp & Paper (APP), described as one of the world’s leading pulp and paper companies, announced in February that it was ending the clearing of natural forests across its supply chain in Indonesia, where the company is based.

In recent years, the company had been the focus of numerous environmental campaigns that questioned its environmental credentials.

Jacek Siwek, APP director of sustainability and stakeholder engagement in Europe, said the EU was “demonstrating its collective muscle by closing one of the world’s largest markets to illegal timber”.

Writing in a guest blog on the FT.com website, he added: “Regulations, such as the EUTR, are having a big
impact on timber-producing nations as they strive to protect their legal industries while eliminating or at least reducing illegal logging.

“Indonesia is playing its part by matching the demand-side measures from the EU with coherent supply-side measures such as the new SVLK legality system.

“SVLK is designed to ensure that all timber products legally exported from Indonesia can be traced from origin through transport, trade and processing.”

The measures introduced by the EUTR form part of the Bloc’s Forest Law Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) action plan, which was published in 2003.

SOURCE: BBC/PACNEWS

30) Yap opposition to huge Chinese-funded casino project

Posted at 05:55 on 20 March, 2013 UTC

Some locals on Yap in the Federated States of Micronesia are prepared to go to court in a bid to stop a billion dollar Chinese-funded development on the island.

The Exhibition Tourism Group wants to build a 4,000 room casino and golf resort which would quadruple the island’s annual economic output to 200 million US dollars.

The Yap Governor has signed an investment agreement with ETG but more land is needed for the consortium’s plans.

But the leader of the group Concerned Citizens of Yap, Nicholas Figirlaarown, says the project is simply too big.

“Our forefather for this small island they been telling us to start small, start the small scale type of investment. But this new governor think this is the right way to go and we keep telling him no. And this very ETG has a problem with other parts of the world and they aren’t very transparent when it comes to development.”

Nicholas Figirlaarown of the group Concerned Citizens of Yap

Radio New Zealand International

Law&Order:

31) Solomons outraged over photo of child smoking

Updated 22 March 2013, 9:20 AEST

An online photograph of a young Solomon Islands boy smoking has sparked fierce debate over children’s rights and child welfare.

The photo has sparked fierce debate online about children’s rights and child welfare (Credit: Audience submitted)

An online photograph of a young Solomon Islands boy smoking has sparked fierce debate over children’s rights and child welfare.

The boy, whose image was posted on a Solomon Islands Facebook page, appears to be about six or seven years old.

The Forum Solomon Islands Facebook page has been inundated with comments expressing concern for the child’s welfare.

“[This] is a bad sign for us…parents needs to take more responsible roles in our homes,” said one user.

“I’ve seen cases similar and worse than this pic…just can’t comprehend why kids of such age get in to such activities. Sad,” said another.

But others have criticised the uploading of the image.

“I know what’s going on too & I do care about him as well as many others out there. Should care enough to respect the rights of that kid,” said one.

Wilfred Zina from Save the Children in Honiara says a lot is being done by the government and UN agencies to raise awareness about the dangers of smoking.

But, Mr Zina has told Radio Australia’s Pacific Beat the issue of children smoking still needs more attention.

“Unfortunately, smoking isn’t unheard (of) among children and young people in Solomon Islands,” he said.

“It is something Save the Children is very concerned about.

“Although, this photo is something that we would not welcome, as it gives the message to other children that smoking is okay, and this is something that we are working hard to dispel.” radioaustralia.net.au

32) Marshalls and US sign sea patrol deal

Posted at 07:36 on 21 March, 2013 UTC

An agreement has been signed that will allow Marshall Islands law enforcement to use US Navy vessels to patrol their exclusive economic zone.

The agreement was signed by the Marshall Islands foreign minister, Phillip Muller, and the US Ambassador, Thomas Armbruster, in Majuro on Tuesday.

Our correspondent, Giff Johnson, says the agreement expands on a shiprider pact with the US Coastguard that was signed in 2008.

He says under the deal signed this week, US defence vessels sailing through the area can now carry Marshallese officers who will enforce local laws.

Giff Johnson says this is a big deal because the Marshall Islands have a lot of sea to patrol with very few resources.

“The country has only one patrol vessel that’s supplied by the Australian Government, and the marine economic zone is something like 500,000 square miles of ocean and it’s just virtually impossible to patrol. So any additional help is welcome and that’s why the Marshall’s and the US have expanded the arrangement.”

Giff Johnson reporting from Majuro

Radio New Zealand International

33) Fijians maybe involved in human trafficking overseas
By Online Editor
2:19 pm GMT+12, 20/03/2013, Fiji

The Fiji Financial Intelligence Unit suspects people from Fiji may be involved in human trafficking abroad.

Director Razim Buksh says that funds derived from human trafficking, prostitution and other related crimes committed abroad often enter Fiji.

Buksh says they have mechanisms where they can link up with relevant partner agencies here and abroad to investigate and monitor financial behavior of suspects involved in this kind of criminal activity.

“There are cases before us at the moment and we are investigating cases where we suspect international dimensions to prostitution activities here in Fiji – we suspect that prostitutes from Fiji maybe sent abroad or sold abroad and brought back. We have traced few of the cases by way of financial transactions and remittances coming in.”

Buksh said that there have been cases where foreign nationals have entered the country and become involved in prostitution and pornography.

SOURCE: FBC/PACNEWS

34) Cook Islands look at youth issues
By Online Editor
4:44 pm GMT+12, 20/03/2013, Cook Islands

Dozens of Cook Islanders have attended a meeting looking at how to solve youth issues.

Police statistics show there were 18 incidents of unlawful taking in January which was reduced to nine in February as the police caught known young offenders.

However burglaries, vehicle conversion and thefts went up.

The meeting heard about initiatives such as a drug, alcohol and violence-free programme encouraging relationships between children, parents and police.

Educators spoke about the global trend of children dropping out school and the role the community can play in preventing that.

A new Future for Youth committee has been set up to decide the next step.

SOURCE: TVNZ/PACNEWS

35) Vanuatu government expected to be liable for Phocea detention

Posted at 05:55 on 20 March, 2013 UTC

Vanuatu’s deputy commissioner of marine affairs, Guy Benard, says he expects the government to be asked to pay compensation for detaining the Phocea super yacht since July.

Its release has now been ordered by the Supreme Court amid earlier claims by its owner that police committed piracy for holding it.

Mr Benard says he expects the Phocea to sail to either Thailand or Indonesia.

“It will cost huge money to the government of Vanuatu because I cannot see how they can escape. The problem in Vanuatu is that some civil servants, who are either incompetent or malicious, take the law into their hand.”

Vanuatu’s deputy commissioner of marine affairs, Guy Benard

Radio New Zealand International

Education:

36) Kiribati president gives details for student loan offer

Posted at 03:10 on 21 March, 2013 UTC

The President of Kiribati, Anote Tong, says tertiary students should take out a loan to fund their studies, if they believe they can make use of the public funds.

This comes after about 200 students who missed out on scholarships wrote to the President, asking that the government offer more scholarships or start a student loan scheme.

Mr Tong says the government has allocated funds for a student loan scheme to the Ministry of Education, which will transfer the money to the Development Bank of Kiribati to handle the loan applications.

He says students will not need to pay the money back if they pass their courses.

Radio New Zealand International

37) Solomons’ students warned after Fiji stabbing incident

Posted at 07:27 on 20 March, 2013 UTC

A senior Solomon Islands education official has told students that they will face harsh penalties if they fail to uphold and respect the laws of their host country.

The comments from the director of the National Training Unit, Selu Maezama, came after reports that two Solomons’ students at the University of the South Pacific in Fiji had been charged over a stabbing incident.

One of the students has now been cleared of the allegations.

Mr Maezama says they have no information on any charges being laid against the other student, but are liaising with authorities to ensure legal representation is provided.

He says all the ministry has learned is that two students were involved in a scuffle in which a weapon was used, resulting in one of them being charged.

But Mr Maezama says it should serve as an example to other Solomon Islands Government sponsored students studying overseas.

Radio New Zealand International

Enviromental Issues-Climate Change+

38) Kiribati wants more seawalls to counter sea level rise

Posted at 07:36 on 21 March, 2013 UTC

The President of Kiribati, Anote Tong, says there is an urgent need to build seawalls around the islands to reduce their vulnerability to sea level rise.

Mr Tong says this would require a huge amount of money and he has travelled around the world to seek support for this work from the international community.

He says i-Kiribati children need to upskill and acquire a better education so they can emigrate with valuable skills and knowledge.

He says it’s very unlikely Kiribati will remain a nation in the next hundred years based on what is happening now.

Mr Tong says a number of islands are facing serious problems as a result of climate change but people cannot be forced to emigrate when the time comes.

Radio New Zealand International

39) Solomons tsunami refugees’ urgent need for land for new homes

Posted at 07:36 on 21 March, 2013 UTC

The premier of the Solomon Islands province hit by a magnitude eight earthquake and tsunami six weeks ago is calling on the government and landowners to make land for new homes available.

Father Charles Brown Beu says more than one hundred people are living in tents and under tarpaulins in the centre of the provincial capital, Lata, because they are too afraid to return to the land by the sea.

He says those people are having to get by without water and toilets.

“One of my problems now is to find land for their resettlement. Much of the government land has already been taken up but to have a village right in the middle of town doesn’t look good to me so they need to be rehabilitated and government should be able to find some land. My problem is money but I can talk to people who own land and say, what about assisting these people, they are only our wantoks and at least they contribute a lot to the economy of Temotu province.”

The Temotu province premier, Father Charles Brown Beu.

Radio New Zealand International

Sports:

40) Kaltak blong lidim Vanuatu U20 tim long Fiji

Posted on March 20, 2013

Futbol
By
Raymond Nasse
Vanuatu Smile Team (inset) VFF President i stap ofisoli handem ova Vanuatu flag long tufala kapten, Jean Kaltak mo Seloni Iaruel

Young straeka blong Vanuatu we i mekem nem blong hem long Vanuatu mo Oceania Football, Jean Kaltak blong Erakor, oli nominetem hem olsem Vanuatu Smile kapten long las Fraede naet long Teouma Academy.

Long taem blong briefing seremoni ia i lukim President blong VFF, Lambert Maltock i congratuletem Jean kaltak long impoten role ia mo talem se i stret nomo we Manejmen blong tim i appointem hem i kam kapten blong blong U20 tim.

Be i no hemia nomo, Smile Team i appointem tu top yang kol kipa blong Vanuatu, Seloni Iaruel i kam vaes kapten blong Smile Team.

“Tufala yangfala ia i mekem nem blong Vanuatu Football i gud tumas mo i propa nomo se tufala i lidim Smile Team i go long Fiji,” Maltock i talem.

“Jean kaltak i wan top yang striker blong Vanuatu mo OFC mo Seloni Iaruel i gat fulap experiens afta we hemi stap wetem Stoke City long wan manis las yia i mekem se Vanuatu futbol i praod tumas long role blong tufala mo wishim tufala wan gud lidasip long kompetisen mo wishim tu everi 23 pleia long tim ‘all the best of luck’ long OFC tunamen ia long Fiji.”

Vaes President blong Amicale, Andrew Leong tu i wishim tim all the best tu long tunamen ia.

President blong Erakor Golden Star, Charles Carlot i joinem toktok blong Andrew Leong se “Olsem president blong Golden Star, tankio blong jusum Jean kaltak olsem kapten blong Smile Team mo mi wishim U20 all the best long kompetisen .”

Vanuatu Smile Team hemi risivim wan full set travelling uniform we Philip Malas mo Evergreen nao oli bin sponsarem long Fraede las wik.

Vanuatu U20 tim oli bin leko kaontri finis long yestede moning blong go long U20 OFC wol kap kwalifaea long Fiji.www.dailypost.vu

41) Sevens sides primed for Hong Kong tilt
By Online Editor
5:31 pm GMT+12, 21/03/2013, Hong Kong

This weekend’s Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens is set to be the biggest yet, with 28 nations being represented in two tournaments across three days.

As well as the sixth round of the HSBC Sevens World Series, which Hong Kong will compete in against the 15 core teams having qualified as Asian champions, 12 sides will be looking to finish in the top four of the pre-core team qualifier.

For USA Sevens champions South Africa, Hong Kong is the only tournament they are yet to win, and head coach Paul Treu spoke about his desire to be the first side to win two Cups this season at the tournament’s official press conference.

“I have taken a picture of this Cup because it is almost like the closest we have come to it in the last 20 years,” said Treu.

“We do have the opportunity to become the first team this season to win successive tournaments, and there is everything to play for.

“This is going to be one of the most competitive tournaments this season but I believe the team who wants to win it the most will be holding the Cup at the end.”

South Africa are second in the World Series standings behind last year’s runners-up New Zealand, and their captain DJ Forbes believes the competitive nature will only increase in Hong Kong.

“The big teams definitely take it to another level here in Hong Kong,” added Forbes.” Everyone has seen how consistent we are, we have been in a lot of finals this year.

“For us it is about error free rugby and we are looking for number two, and it would be pretty special to do it here in Hong Kong. We never like to come here and lose, a lot of teams target this one. Every time we watch that final we get a lot of passion back and that is what is going to drive us come game time.”

Fiji, who defeated Forbes’ side 35-21 in last year’s final, will be without their injured captain Setefano Cakau, but Nemani Nagusa believes they can still defend their title.

“It will be hard to defend, it is always hard to defend a title, but we have come prepared and are looking forward to a great tournament. He [Cakau] has always been a role model for me, but we can’t do much about him not being here and I have a good bunch of boys who I believe can do the job.”

Ashley Drake, Cook Islands captain: “I can’t wait, it is the pinnacle of Sevens and the boys are really excited. There is a huge carrot dangling in front of us. If we become a core team Sevens will grow immensely in the Cook Islands.”

Juan Diego Ormaechea, Uruguay captain: “We are hoping for a good tournament and looking to qualify for London for a chance to become a core team. This is a unique opportunity and we must grab it.”

Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union has officially launched the ‘biggest ever’ Cathay Pacific/HSBC Hong Kong Sevens in the 38-year history of the tournament.

In 2013 Hong Kong welcomes 28 teams to its famous Sevens, which this year stretches to 70 matches across the three days.

Twenty-three of the 28 teams will compete in the men’s competition at the Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow in June, with only the Philippines from the Moscow draw not on show.

Sixteen of the teams in Hong Kong (the current 15 core teams and Asian champions, Hong Kong) will compete in the main competition, while 12 regional qualifiers will look to keep alive their hopes of gaining core team status on the 2013/14 Series by finishing in the top four of their competition and book a place in the promotion / relegation play-off finale in London in May.

Of those 12 sides, Jamaica and Brazil are set to make their Hong Kong debuts, becoming the 52nd and 53rd nations to compete in Hong Kong.

Conor O’Malley, coach of Jamaica, said: “The excitement the guys shared with me when they heard that we were going to Hong Kong was that this is like their World Cup. And some of them even compared it with going to the Olympics, so it is really a big thing for them. We would normally have 17 players trying out for the team but this year we’ve had 37 wanting to be a part of this team. They are in good spirits and very excited to be here.”

As Asian champions, Hong Kong line up in the main 16-team competition with matches against Fiji, Canada and Spain. Their coach, Dai Rees, said: “It’s a fantastic opportunity for us and we’re in with the big boys. It’s great for the local support and it’s great for Asian rugby. I was talking with Serevi recently and he told me it’s the best time to get Fiji, first game. I’m not so sure about that, but we’ll be looking forward to it. They’ve only got three players who’ve played in Hong Kong before, so who knows?”

With the most countries participating, the Hong Kong event has also attracted more live broadcast takers than ever before with 23 airing live coverage in 144 countries, a new record for a single round of the Series.

After five rounds of the 2012/13 HSBC Sevens World Series there have been five different winners. Fiji won the opener in Australia; Samoa claimed the cup in Dubai; New Zealand triumphed in South Africa; England won in New Zealand and South Africa took the USA Sevens in Las Vegas.

As the only side to have reached all five Cup quarter-final rounds, New Zealand lie first in the standings on 96 points followed by South Africa (73), Samoa (71), Fiji (66), France (59) and Kenya (57).

The Cathay Pacific / HSBC Hong Kong Sevens takes place on 22-24 March, followed a week later by round 7, the Tokyo Sevens on 30-31 March. …(PACNEWS)

Philippe Saibir Pako -Tenen
e: phillipe@voiceofmelanesia.com
w: www.voiceofmelanesia.com

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