Smol Melanesian Na Pasifik Nius Digest # 1086 ( Friday 17 April 2015 )


1) MSG summit in May to discuss West Papua bid
By Online Editor
11:20 pm GMT+12, 14/04/2015, New Caledonia

he president of the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Victor Tutugoro, says a special summit is planned for  21 May to examine the membership bid of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, or KNPB.

The bid for membership was formally submitted to the MSG secretariat in February after an earlier attempt by the West Papuans was rejected because the MSG didn’t consider the application to be representative of the Indonesian province.

Tutugoro told Noumea’s daily newspaper that he met a KNPB leader, Rex Rumakiek, and has been invited to the Movement’s planned Congress in Papua New Guinea.

According to the paper, an MSG foreign ministers’ delegation is considering submitting to Jakarta the conclusion of the May meeting.

It also says Tutugoro will soon travel to Fiji and PNG to discuss the application which will ultimately be decided at the MSG leaders summit in Solomon Islands later this year.

At the MSG summit in 2011, Indonesia was granted observer status.



Quick Summary of Key Messages from last Friday’s (10 April) press conference, Plus extra that was not covered:

-Vanuatu government is fully committed to recovery efforts and will continue to extend State of Emergency for as long as possible, including VAT and duty exemptions
– A big thank you to all donor partners – bilateral and multilateral and NGOs for helping Vanuatu in the relief efforts
-Lessons have been learnt from the first roll out of the relief assistance…The second roll out is happening this week and government will be using more civil servants to do distribution work in islands. A lot of distribution in the islands will be from nakamal to nakamal to avoid unfairness in distribution.
– In the first round, as was expected, there were lots of complaints over distribution because of lack of proper data/statistics and politics getting in the way of some areas. Many of these areas, including our ever-present logistical challenges, are being ironed out and the second roll out should see more improvements.
-Government alone has so far spent just over Vt209 million from its 2015 budget to purchase rations and ferry them to people affected.
– Note that this is being done most probably for the first time. No other governments have done this in the past as we have depended largely on outside assistance for relief supplies.
– The total value of the Vanuatu contribution could be safely estimated at well over Vt600 million if you include government salaries paid to civil servants since March 13th, 1 million each to 52 MPs, Plus VAT and duty exemptions
– Government is making available through Reserve Bank a Vt500 million facility that private sector can access through commercial banks at not more 5% interest rate to help them rebuild their businesses. This money will be doubled if Banks find it useful and create a demand for it
– It is the first time ever that a small country like Vanuatu has stepped up; centralised all coordination efforts through the NDMO to avoid duplication of efforts and make the best use of the large amount of aid that have been pouring in. No other country in the world has done it!
– Because of this brave effort, Vanuatu has won very high commendation from the international community
– Total pledge received thus far is about USD15 million. The actual cash received is approx. USD 6 million. All that money is coming through our treasury department and will be fully accounted for
– Govt wants to see more partners coming in with budgetary support
– Most shelter kits given out in the first round not so useful as most people who have had their homes damaged no longer have the bush materials available to help them rebuild.
– Government through NDMO is requesting tents, instead of tarpulins
– PM Natuman who is also minister responsible for media made strong comments against sensationalist reporting by one of the local media. It appears they are peddling a political agenda on behalf of their masters.
– Government won’t tolerate it given that Vanuatu is going through a disaster.
– Government calls on everyone to continue to pull their efforts together, and with support of our generous donors Vanuatu can recover quicker.

From MP Ralph Regenvanu & also Vanuatu Minister for Lands – Websaet:

2b ) Vanuatu Daily News Digest | Huge additional Australian relief

by bobmakin

PACNEWS Second Edition

Thursday 16 April 2015



PACNEWS 2: Thu 16 Apr 2015

  • Another $5 million for Vanuatu: Bishop

CANBERRA, 16 APRIL 2015 (AAP/RNZI) —Australia will provide an extra $5 million (US$3.8 million) to Vanuatu as it continues to recover from deadly Cyclone Pam.

The funding will be spent on urgent repairs to schools and health infrastructure, as well as helping restore food sources, Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has announced.

Australia already has donated $10 million (US$7.7 million) in emergency relief.

  • Meanwhile, Vanuatu’s Port Vila Hospital is in urgent need of blood and is calling for donations. Blood specialist Neil Walters says there was a shortage of blood before last month’scyclone but now supplies are at an even more desperate level.

Walters says the hospital’s stock is nearly empty which is causing concern as its operations continue. “We’re still having babies born. There’s still surgery, people still getting sick. There’s also patients being referred from the other islands so demand has gone up a bit. Also at the same time people are busy post-cyclone. There’s a little bit of flu going around at the moment so donations have dropped off a bit.”

Walters says the hospital is in need of at least six donors per day to meet demand….PACNEW

3) Vanuatu Daily News Digest | 16 April 2015

by bobmakin

  • The Government has extended the duty and VAT free period for building materials following cyclone Pam. It dates from today and lasts until June 12.

Government is also seeking to prosecute those importers, wholesalers and retailers, who have taken advantage of the State of Emergency to increase mark-ups. There have been many complaints. Full cooperation is sought from the business sector, Radio Vanuatu reported today.

  • Eton village, East Efate, suffered great damage. Mamas of Eton and other villages and the NDMO have set up an information centre to inform especially women and the disabled.
  • The NZ army forces will complete their reconstruction efforts in public buildings in the Shepherds in the next week.
  • Government has also decided, with apologies, to defer the claims of the Fishermen’s Assn in view of the cyclone Pam disaster.
  • The MSG Trade Agreement rules are being discussed in Port Vila this week, under what is called MSGTA3. New chapters are being included on Services, Investment, Labour Mobility, and Government Procurement.Officials from such services are included in the talks.
  • STOP OGM Pacifique views on genetic modification are clearly expressed today in Daily Post Letters. STOP OGM makes it clear their efforts re intended to assist farmers.


4) More Tahiti candidates for French Senate seats

16 April 2015

The pro-independence party in French Polynesia has failed to nominate a united candidacy for next month’s election to the French Senate.

After a former senator, Richard Tuheiava, lodged his candidacy with a running mate, a rival pair from within the fold has decided to also stand.

They are Tauhiti Nena and the Greens’ leader Jacky Bryant who have announced their intentions to stand.

The ruling anti-independence side has also seen disunity in nominating its candidates, resulting in four senior members of the Tahoeraa Huiraatira Party being expelled.

The May election was called after a French court annulled last year’s election, saying a march by hundreds of Tahoeraa supporters to the polling station on election day amounted to undue pressure on the electoral college.RNZI

5) Women’s advocate:Tonga’s CEDAW ratification a disaster

16 April 2015

A women’s advocate in Tonga says the country’s much-heralded ratification of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women is a disaster.

The Director of the Women and Children Crisis Centre Ofa Guttenbeil-Likiliki says since last month’s cabinet announcement that the UN convention would be ratified there has been huge debate in the community.

Church and community leaders have come out against the move and the government has still not officially ratified CEDAW despite making the announcement to a UN meeting in New York.

Ms Guttenbeil-Likiliki says the process is a mess because of the government using terms such as abortion and same-sex marriage which she says are not referred to in the convention.

“From the get-go, the communication of this government agreeing to ratify CEDAW has been somewhat based on a lot of misconceptions, hence the reason why CEDAW has probably become the most debated issue in the political arena and also at the ground level. I haven’t seen anything like this since the move towards democracy.”

Ms Guttenbeil-Likiliki also says there are conditions within ratification that are designed to protect domestic considerations but the question needs to be asked what are people protecting under the auspices of culture and religion.RNZI

6) Two Samoa’s push cooperation on trade and business

By Online Editor
11:14 pm GMT+12, 15/04/2015, American Samoa

Samoa and American Samoa have launched a 2Samoas Trade Fair in Utulei, American Samoa, in a major effort to push trade and business between the two countries.

The two countries, one an American territory and the other an independent state, share common elements as one people with one culture and traditions albeit their political systems.

The 2 Samoa Trade Fair puts over forty companies and businesses from the Samoa divide on display for five days alongside the celebration of 115 years of American Samoa’s Flag Day.

“While the Flag Day is particular to the people of Tutuila and Manu’a, the 2 Samoa’s have creatively used this occasion to reaffirm our commitment to one another, and to continue creating an environment of constructive engagement for the benefit of our people,” said Governor Lolo Moliga.

“We also celebrate through a Trade Fair, which is a testament to American Samoa’s pledge to preserve our mutual alliance by bolstering trade, exchanging ideas and seeking innovative ways to promote our two countries.”

The inaugural 2Samoas Trade Fair is a collaborative effort of the American Samoa Chamber of Commerce, and the Small Business Enterprise Center – SBEC attracting over forty different sized businesses from beverages, hotels and rental car companies, to Samoan fashion and designs, ava and root crops sellers to cottage biscuits makers, traditional health and herbal products using traditional knowledge and various products from coconut oil.

“The 2Samoas Trade Fair provides many opportunities for our countries to trade in the future and also its practical approach to identifying real opportunities to be discussed further under a trade or economic agreement between our countries,” says Samoa’s Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi.

The two countries have agreed to set up a Task Force to look at the details of such economic cooperation and inter trade and its due to meet next month. Both Samoa’s see real opportunities in cooperation; reduce existing trade barriers with the services and telecommunications sector high on the list.



7) FSM Congress appropriates $1.5M for typhoon relief

By Online Editor
8:29 pm GMT+12, 15/04/2015, Micronesia, Federated States of

The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) Eighteenth Congress has ended its two-day sixth special session.

Among actions taken was an appropriation of US$1.5 million towards typhoon relief assistance for the FSM States of Chuuk and Yap, and US$100,000 for Vanuatu.

FSM President Manny Mori called the special session of Congress to consider the ongoing emergency situation caused by Super Typhoon Maysak over two weeks ago, resulting in disasters throughout parts of Chuuk and Yap.

Mori submitted a request of approximately US$4.8 million with supporting expenditure details. That amount was to be divided up US$4,602,705 for Chuuk, US$114,858 for Yap, and US$100,000 as replenishment of decreed amounts from the executive branch. Primarily, the funding would enable a 30-day feeding program in the affected States.

In his 09 April communication with Congress before the special session began, the president emphasised that the national government had a fund balance of us$7.5 million available for appropriation.

But Congress had other plans. On the first day of the session, it re-passed C.A. 18-123, which was vetoed on 02 March, allocating US$2.8 million toward economic projects and social programs.

In addition, at the close of session, Congress also chose to override the president’s item veto of C.A. 18-121, earmarking an amount of US$3 million for deposit into the FSM Trust Fund, leaving only a remainder of US$1.7 million for other appropriations.

Apart from the US$4.6 for Chuuk inclusive in the president’s request, Congress was also provided a request of US$3.2 million submitted by Chuuk state. However, as emphasized by the chairman of the Standing Committee on Ways and Means, Congress made its decision to only provide an amount of US$1.5 million for Chuuk and Yap based on an oral report provided by the committee.

After the session ended, Senate Wesley Simina of Chuuk explained that Congress has provided an amount that can be utilized while a comprehensive disaster assessment is worked on to guide more proper responses.

The disaster response proposed legislation now awaits President Mori’s review.

He has issued a declaration of emergency and diverted financial, manpower, and technical assistance to Chuuk and Yap, including the deployment of maritime vessels for assessment and early response missions while Maysak was still on the move end of last month for Chuuk, and very early this month for Yap.



8) ‘Australia is in one of the worst housing bubbles we have ever seen’, Sydney Morning Herald, March 27, 2015 – 7:12AM
To view the entire article, click on:


9)P NG wok long wokim planti wok pinis long stopim korapsen: Dr Ken Ngangan

Postim 15 April 2015, 14:04 AEST
Sam Seke

Bosman blong Finance Department itok gavman i gohet long wokim planti wok pinis long daunim sait long korapsen we ol intenasenal ajensi i to em i wapela wost wan long wol.

PNG i wok long wokim planti wok long stopim pasin korapsen we i bikpela long gavman
Odio: Dr Ken Ngangan, Acting Secretary blong Finance Department long Papua New Guinea i toktok
Acting Secretary blong Finance Department long Papua New Guinea itok ol development partner blong na arapela kantri imas luksave long bikpela piksa olsem, PNG i wok trutru long dil wantaim isiu blong korapsen long kantri.

Dr Ken Ngangan itok igat ol wok i gohet pinis insait long gavman sistim long stopim ol pasin blong korapsem we i bikpela insait long gavman.

Dr Ngangan i tok moa long dispela em long dispela Independent Commission Against Corruption or ICAC we O’Neill gavman i wok long kirapim.

Em i tok hap blong dispela pait agensim korapsen we i gohet pinis em dispela Phones Against Corruption we Department wok wantaim UN Development Programme longen.

Dr Ngangan i tok olsem ol i hamamas long hau dispela sistim blong ripotim hait ol ofisa long gavman we i stilim moni i gohet.

Em i tok dispela sistim i mekim planti ofisa husait i laik stolim moni long tingting gut pastaim long wokim kain korap pasin olsem. Radio Australia

10) Malaita Province i noken dipen long sentrol gavman long moni

Updated 16 April 2015, 12:23 AEST
Sam Seke

Niupela gavman blong Malaita Province long Solomon Islands i luksave olsem provins i nid long kamapim moa ol revenue oa moni blong provins yet.

Premier Peter Channel Ramohia itok dispela em long wanem Malaita i bikpela provins na i save reisim liklik moni mak tasol long revenue blongen yet.

Em i tok gavman blongen bai senisim kain tingting blong olgeta Malaita gavman bipo long weitim tasol moni we i kam long nasinol gavman long service grant.

Premier Ramohia itok olgeta gavman blong Malaita Province ikam inap nau i wok long dipen tumas long moni we i kam long nasinal gavman.

Long olgeta yia ikam inap nau Malaita province i bin raisim aninit long 5 million dollar long wanwan yia tasol.

Na Premier Ramohia i tok dispela moni i liklik tumas.

Em i tok Malaita em i  bikpela province we igat bikpela potensol long reisim planti moa moni blong em yet.

Mr Ramohia itok long olkgeta taim ikam inap nau, planti long ol revenue or moni we province i kisim – i kam tasol long ol bikpela bisnis long Auki em Capital blong province.

Em i tok province inobin kisim revenue long takis long ol pipol na olgeta bisnis long olgeta komuniti long province.

Premier Ramohia itok em i luk nogut taim ol arapela liklik province long kantri i reisim bikpela moa revenue blong ol yet.

Em i tok niupela gavman blongen bai nau wok had long kolektim olgeta moni blong province.Radio Australia.

11) Malaita Ma’asina Forum i tokim MSG long sapotim West Papua

Postim 14 April 2015, 15:10 AEST
Sam Seke

Wanpela lain long Solomon Islands i tokim gavman na ol arapela lida long Melanesia long noken tanim ai pas long ol pipol blong West Papua.

Lida blong Malaita Ma’asina Forum long Solomon Islands i askim ol MSG kantri long larim West Papua i kamap memba tu (Credit: ABC)
Odio: President blong Malaita Ma’asina Forum, Charles Dausabea i toktok
Wanpela strongpela politikol presa grup long Solomon Islands, dispela Malaita Ma’asina Forum i askim Sogavare gavman long em i mas sapotim aplikesen blong West Papua long joinim MSG.

President blong Ma’asina Forum, Charles Dausabea itok olgeta lida blong Melanesian Spearhead Group imas larim West Papua i kamap memba.

Em i tok pipol bong West Papua ibin kisim heve long han blong Indonesia long longpela taim pinis, na ol kantri long Melanesia ino laik luksave longen.

Mr Dausabea i tok Vanuatu tasol i wanpela kantri we i trutru sapota blong ol West Papua.

Na em i tok hamamas tu long sapot we PNG Prime Minista, Peter O’Neill ibin tokaut longen.Radio Australia


12) Brèves du Pacifique – jeudi 16 avril 2015 

Mis à jour 16 April 2015, 16:35 AEST
Élodie Largenton

  • Pénurie de sang dans le principal hôpital du Vanuatu. Les stocks ont atteint des niveaux dangereusement bas, et l’établissement de Port-Vila pourrait bientôt se retrouver complètement à sec.

Cette situation est due au passage du cyclone Pam : de nombreux blessés ont été évacués des îles pour être soignés dans la capitale, et les gens ont moins de temps pour donner leur sang ; mais la situation était déjà critique avant la catastrophe, rapporte Neil Walters, qui gère les stocks de sang. Pour répondre à la demande actuelle, l’hôpital de Port-Vila a besoin d’au moins six donations de sang par jour.

  • De leur côté, les États fédérés de Micronésie tentent de se remettre du passage d’un autre cyclone : Maysak. Et pour cela, ils se tournent vers Barack Obama : les autorités demandent au président américain de déclarer l’état d’urgence pour permettre aux États de bénéficier de l’aide fédérale américaine. Cet appel intervient alors que les équipes de secours américaines viennent de finir d’évaluer les dégâts. Les États micronésiens expliquent qu’il est désormais clair que l’étendue des dommages constatés rend essentielle une aide extérieure. Depuis 1986, les îles micronésiennes sont des États associés aux États-Unis.
  • Une bonne nouvelle : le nombre de tortues imbriquées augmente considérablement aux Îles Salomon. La coquille de ces tortues a commencé à être chassée et commercialisée dans les années 1840, à tel point que l’espèce a failli disparaître. Mais après 150 ans d’exploitation intensive, le commerce a été prohibé et depuis, la population de tortues imbriquées a augmenté de 200% dans les îles Arnavon. Un succès inédit dans le Pacifique, affirme l’organisation Nature Conservancy.Radio Australia

13) Brèves du Pacifique – mercredi 15 avril 2015

Mis à jour 15 April 2015, 16:14 AEST
Élodie Largenton

  • En Australie, huit gardiens travaillant au centre de rétention de Nauru ont été suspendus après avoir posé auprès de Pauline Hanson, la dirigeante du parti One Nation, considéré d’extrême-droite.

Selon le Guardian, qui révèle l’information, la photo a été prise au début du mois, à Brisbane, lors d’un rassemblement du mouvement controversé « Reclaim Australia », « reconquérir l’Australie ». Elle a ensuite été publiée sur le réseau social Facebook, où certains membres de l’équipe d’intervention d’urgence du centre de Nauru ont aussi posté des insultes anti-islam. « C’est très inquiétant et cela ne correspond pas du tout à ce que l’on attend de nos employés », déclare le porte-parole de l’entreprise Transfield Services, chargée de la gestion des centres de rétention australiens.

  • Le Vanuatu a besoin d’aide, mais pas à n’importe quel prix. Le gouvernement de l’archipel refuse les importations de semences génétiquement modifiées. Plus de 90% des cultures ont été détruites dans les îles touchées par le passage du cyclone Pam, il y a un mois, et il est donc urgent de replanter des graines au plus vite. « Nous faisons en sorte de protéger l’environnement autant que les moyens de subsistance de la population », explique le directeur vanuatais de la biosécurité.
  • La Papouasie-Nouvelle-Guinée enquête sur l’incursion présumée de soldats indonésiens, la semaine dernière. Des villageois de Wutung auraient vu huit militaires indonésiens passer la frontière pendant que les soldats papous contrôlaient des passagers et inspectaient des marchandises, à quelques mètres de là. D’après la presse papoue, ce sont les habitants du village qui ont repoussé les militaires indonésiens.
  • Une compagnie turque va financer le nouvel hôpital des Îles Salomon. Le groupe d’investissement Nazer apportera 65 millions de dollars pour construire cet établissement dans la province de Malaita. Un mémorandum d’entente doit être signé dans les prochains jours entre l’entreprise turque et les autorités salomonaises. Ce ne serait que la première étape d’une série d’investissements que le groupe Nazer a l’intention de faire dans le pays : il voudrait construire un hôtel 5 étoiles, des logements pour les fonctionnaires, développer l’industrie du thon en conserves ainsi que l’élevage de volailles.

« Attirer l’investissement étranger », c’est la priorité du gouvernement salomonais, comme l’a expliqué, dans le même temps, le Premier ministre Manasseh Sogavare à l’un de ses partenaires traditionnels, Taïwan. Un membre du gouvernement taïwanais est actuellement en visite dans l’archipel mélanésien. Il promet d’encourager les investisseurs de son pays à venir aux Îles Salomon. Ce responsable taïwanais doit ensuite se rendre dans les autres îles de la région qui ont choisi d’apporter leur soutien diplomatique à Taïwan plutôt qu’à la Chine.

  • Un couple gay de Guam se bat pour obtenir le droit de se marier. Deux femmes viennent de porter plainte contre les autorités, qui ont refusé de les marier, la semaine dernière. L’Église catholique s’oppose vigoureusement au mariage homosexuel à Guam, mais les avocats du couple affirment que la loi américaine autorise les unions gays. En juin prochain, la Cour suprême des États-Unis se prononcera sur la légalisation du mariage gay au niveau national. Guam est un territoire américain du Pacifique, au même titre que les Samoa américaines et les Îles Mariannes du nord.
  • Coup d’envoi d’un projet de câble sous-marin de fibre optique entre l’Asie et les États-Unis. Long de 15 000 kilomètres, ce câble passera notamment par Guam et Hawaï, tout en évitant les zones sujettes aux tremblements de terre. Ce projet de 330 millions de dollars est financé par des entreprises des régions concernées : outre Guam et Hawaï, l’Indonésie, les Philippines et la Californie.
  • Un parcours de golf particulièrement dangereux, en Australie : un homme de 70 ans a été mordu au mollet par un crocodile de mer alors qu’il essayait de récupérer une balle tombée dans un obstacle d’eau. Conduit à l’hôpital, le golfeur amateur se porte bien, et il affirme que l’accident est en partie de sa faute – il a dérangé le crocodile, qui était en train de prendre un bain de soleil, explique-t-il. Les autorités vont tenter de capturer l’animal, qui fait partie des espèces protégées en Australie. Le crocodile devrait donc terminer sa vie dans un zoo ou dans une ferme d’élevage.Radio Australia.


14) Obama to remove Cuba from state sponsor of terror list
By Online Editor
7:56 pm GMT+12, 14/04/2015, United States

U.S President Barack Obama will remove Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism, the White House announced Tuesday, a key step in his bid to normalize relations between the two countries.

The terror designation has been a stain on Cuba’s pride and a major stumbling block for efforts to mend ties between Washington and Havana.

In a message to Congress, Obama said the government of Cuba “has not provided any support for international terrorism” over the last six months. He also told lawmakers that Cuba “has provided assurances that it will not support acts of international terrorism in the future.”

Cuba will officially be removed from the terror list 45 days after the president’s message was sent to Congress. Lawmakers could vote to block the move during that window, though Obama would be all-but-certain to veto such a measure.

Tuesday’s announcement comes days after Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro met on the sidelines of a regional summit in Panama. The historic talks marked the first formal meeting between the leaders of their countries in a half-century.

The U.S. has long since stopped actively accusing Cuba of supporting terrorism. When Obama and Castro announced a thaw in relations in December, the U.S. president expressed his willingness to remove Cuba from that list.

However, he held off on making a final decision amid indications that the White House was reluctant to grant Cuba’s request until other thorny issues — such as restrictions on U.S. diplomats in Havana — were resolved.

The president’s final decision followed a State Department review of Cuba’s presence on the list.

Removing Cuba from the terror list could pave the way for the opening of a U.S. Embassy in Havana and other steps. Administration officials said they were optimistic about the prospects of opening the embassy, but did not provide any specific updates in timing.

Cuba was designated a state sponsor of terror in 1982 because of what the White House said was its efforts “to promote armed revolution by organizations that used terrorism.”

Those efforts included support for leftist guerrilla groups in Central and South America that carried out attacks on civilians in their efforts to overthrow U.S.-backed governments.

State Department reports on the terror list specifically mention Cuba sheltering members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, and the Spanish Basque separatist group ETA. Cuba has also given shelter to black and Puerto Rican militants who fled to the island after carrying out attacks in the United States.

Cuba renounced its direct support for foreign militants years ago, and is sponsoring peace talks between the FARC and Colombian government.

Most of the terror list’s direct legal impact is on relatively narrow issues that don’t affect Cuba due to the longstanding trade embargo on the island and deep historical enmity between the two nations. For example, the listing bars U.S. arms sales and other aid to Cuba, an issue that’s been moot for more than a half-century.

However, Cubans say the listing has badly damaged their ability to conduct international financial transactions by frightening banks away from doing business with the communist government. Those who do businesses with state sponsors of terror are vulnerable to lawsuits in U.S. courts.

Cuba’s removal from the terror list will likely make it easier to get credit from non-U.S. banks, transfer funds between countries and conduct a host of other international financial transactions.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said that taking Cuba off the terror list does not change the fact that the U.S. has differences with the island nation’s government.

“Our concerns over a wide range of Cuba’s policies and actions fall outside the criteria that is relevant to whether to rescind Cuba’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism,” Earnest said.

The terror list has been a particularly charged issue for Cuba because of what the government there sees as the U.S. history of supporting exile groups responsible for attacks on the island, including the 1976 bombing of a Cuban passenger flight from Barbados that killed 73 people aboard.

The attack was linked to Cuban exiles with ties to U.S.-backed anti-Castro groups. Both men accused of masterminding the crime took shelter in Florida, where one, Luis Posada Carriles, lives to this day.

Iraida Malberti, the 78-year-old widow of Carlos Alberto Cremata Trujillo, a member of the flight’s crew, said Cuba’s removal from the list was “a joy.”

“Cuba never should have been on the list,” she said, minutes after the decision was announced. “No decision will bring the victims back to life, or erase the humiliation, suffering and pain that this has caused us.”

Until Tuesday, the communist island nation remained one of four countries on the U.S. list of nations accused of repeatedly supporting global terrorism. The others are Iran, Sudan and Syria.



15) Blood shortage at Vanuatu’s main hospital – Vanuatu’s Port Vila Hospital is in urgent need of blood and is calling for donations. Blood specialist Neil Walters says there was a shortage of blood before last month’s cyclone but now supplies are at an even more desperate level. Mr Walters says the hospital’s stock is nearly empty which is causing concern as its operations continue.

16) ‘Public health supply not affected by meds scheme’ – Fiji’s Ministry of Health denies claims health facilities are being deprived of medicines because they are diverted to private pharmacies in order to facilitate the free medicine scheme. The National Federation Party (NFP) had suggested in March “patients visiting hospitals have also been affected by lack of medication as supplies to be delivered to hospitals have been sent to local pharmacies.”

17) Ministry withdraws post-graduate sponsorship – Post graduate studies for about 40 local doctors at the Fiji School of medicine are in limbo with the Health Ministry withdrawing its sponsorship. Acting FSM Dean Professor Rajat Gyaneshwar says they are in negotiations with the Ministry to try and resume funding.


18) $50 kindy grant, only for students aged 5 –  Only five-year-old students in registered preschools will be assisted through the Fijian Government’s tuition free grant which offers $50 per child. Starting next month and in view of limited resources to provide for the more than 731 registered preschools in the country, Ministry of Education acting permanent secretary Kelera Taloga says the ministry is aware of some four-year-olds attending classes as well, but must make it clear to teachers that only five year olds will be assisted.

19) Jannif resigns from USP to take up FNU Chancellor position – The University of the South Pacific has announced the resignation of Pro-Chancellor and Chairman, Ikbal Jannif from the USP Council to take up the position of the Chancellor of the Fiji National University. USP Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Rajesh Chandra said as Pro Chancellor, Janiff has led the Council during a period of considerable achievements by the University.

20) 330 primary schools in rural areas to receive Read to Lead – Fiji reading books  – Three hundred and thirty primary schools in the remote and maritime areas will soon receive educational and entertaining reading books for Year One to Year Five students under the Read to Lead – Fiji Programme by Vision Fiji. While handing over the books to the Ministry of Education Read to Lead – Fiji Patron, Mary Bainimarama said the schools will receive an instant library called an “Everyday Books Box Library” that includes 250 books at different reading levels, teaching resources, a CD-ROM, activity guides and lesson plans for teachers.–2rks95/


21) West Papua 16 April 2015

Tabloid Jubi reports that the six Papuans, including members of the Papua Customary Council, or KIP, went to Jakarta and met informally with the Defence Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu.

However the KIP delegates were then arrested on treason charges after holding a press conference upon their return to Papua’s provincial capital Jayapura.

A police spokesman said the arrests follow instruction from Papua’s Police Chief to deal strictly with organisations which threaten Indonesia’s sovereignty .

Earlier, according to KIP delegate Don Flassy, the Minister had told them that there should be no more talk about Free Papua, but instead, negotiation.

The reason for the KIP trip was to follow up on letters sent to Indonesia’s President by the President of the so-called Federal Republic of West Papua, Forkorus Yaboisembut, regarding his organisation’s declaration of independence for West Papua.RNZI

22) Former Bougainville woman MP wants back in

Updated at 4:08 pm on 16 April 2015

One of the three women to win a reserved seat in Bougainville 10 years ago is standing again because she wants to ensure there is experience in place for the referendum on independence.

The autonomous Papua New Guinea region is holding elections from May 11th with the referendum on possible independence the key issue in the election.

Francesca Semoso won in North Bougainville in the first election for the ABG in 2005.

She stood unsuccessfully in an open seat in 2010 but is hoping the reserved seat will return her to parliament where she believes she can offer leadership.

“2019 is when the people of Bougainville take a vote on either independence or still belonging with PNG. And I have got the quality that I just want to get in there and make sure that Bougainville achieves what it wants to achieve.”

A total of 23 women are contesting the three reserved seats and a record 11 in the open seats.

No woman has ever won in an open seat in Bougainville.RNZI

23) Fiji – Elections Office welcomes findings of MOG Report – The Fijian Elections Office has welcomed the findings of the Multinational Observer Group Report which deems the 2014 general election credible and representative of the will of the voters. Supervisor of Elections, Mohammed Saneem said the Observer Group which was co-led by Indonesia, India and Australia conducted itself in a professional manner, and their insight has been a great benefit to the Elections Office.


24) Observer group makes recommendations and observations on media– The Multinational Observer Group, co‑led by Australia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and India, has recommended in its final report on the 2014 General Elections that political party identification should be included on the National Candidates List. The report also stated that consideration should be given to reducing requirements for party registration and activities. It further said that public office holders, including trade union officers, should be allowed to be political party members. They also recommended that the Public Order (Amendment) Decree should be revised to allow groups, including political parties, to gather without requiring a permit. It also said that the national candidate numbers should be drawn earlier, to allow parties sufficient time to publicise these ahead of pre-polling.


25) Solomons MP: Air Services Agreement With Fiji, PNG ‘Unfair’
Agreement means Solomon Airlines international service will end

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation, April 15, 2015) – The Member of Parliament for Aoke Langa Langa has described the Air Service Agreements signed by Solomon Islands with Papua New Guinea and Fiji as “unfair and unjust”.

Matthew Wale told Parliament the agreements dishonour the basic principal of reciprocity that under girds aviation throughout the world and in the region.

“Mr Speaker the Air Service Agreements between us and Fiji and between us and Papua New Guinea are so unfair and unjust. The basic principal of reciprocity that undergirds the Aviation sector throughout the world and certainly in our region was not honoured by these agreements.”

The Member of Parliament said while the Government is not to be blamed, such agreements returns the country to when Solomon Airlines did not have an international aircraft.

“This is not a blame on the government either. These agreements have taken us back to when we were still without an international aircraft and therefore, we gave away these rights under perhaps the assumption that we will always need these other countries’ carriers to provide us with international aviation services.”

Solomon Islands Broadcasting Corporation

26) Government Telecentres nominated for Global Prize
 – The Government Community Telecentre (GCT) Initiative has been nominated for the 2015 Project Prize by the World Summit On The Information Society (WSIS). Fiji is the only South Pacific nation nominated for an award in the Capacity Building category and is among countries like Indonesia, the United Arab Emirates, Italy, Thailand and the U.S.


 27) increases Vanuatu shipping services grant

Updated at 4:15 pm on 16 April 2015

New Zealand has increased its grant to improve Vanuatu’s inter-island shipping services by 4.5 million US dollars, taking total funding to 17.5 million US dollars.

The New Zealand High Commissioner Georgina Roberts says the additional funding is based on revised estimates of the cost of the work required at seven wharves across Vanuatu.

She says all the wharves have been designed to have a 50-year operational life and are an important infrastructure investment for Vanuatu.

Ms Roberts says the shipping industry plays an important role in economic development of the country, and provides the main transportation service for the local population.

The Prime Minister Joe Natuman has welcomed the assistance, saying it will help Vanuatu rebuild its economy after the damage of cyclone Pam.

The inter-islands shipping industry is a joint project of the government of New Zealand, the Vanuatu government and the Asian Development Bank.RNZI


28) PNG Army chief wants report on border
By Online Editor
11:16 pm GMT+12, 14/04/2015, Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea Defence Force Commander Brigadier-General Gilbert Toropo is awaiting a report from his officers in Sandaun on the unauthorised excursion of Indonesian soldiers across the border last week.

He said he had directed his officers at the Vanimo Forward Base to submit a report on the matter.

Totopo was responding to a report in The National yesterday on the eight armed Indonesian soldiers who were seen by local villagers crossing the border near Wutung village.

The PNG soldiers at the time were said to be busy checking passengers and cargo from Indonesia at a military checkpoint about 100 metres away.

Wutung councillor Raphael Tungla had told The National that Indonesian soldiers passed the border monument on the beach and walked to the edge of his village last week.

But he said they immediately turned back when the villagers confronted them. Tungla expressed his concern over the laxity of the PNG soldiers in manning the border.

He said the soldiers should be patrolling the border and not checking passengers returning from the Batas market who had already been cleared by Customs, Immigration and police officers at the border administration post.

He reported the incident to the senior military officers at the checkpoint

Meanwhile, Wutung councillor Raphael Tungla expressed confusion over two Government-funded rural electrification projects implemented in his village in West Sepik.

Tungla said that they were yet to benefit from the rural electrification programme jointly funded by the Asian Development Bank and the Government through its implementing agency – Border Development Authority.

“BDA is yet to work on this electrification programme under the social component of the K90 million Wutung border administration pilot project. And now we have this huge PNG-Indonesian electrification project that will have electricity supplied to Vanimo from a power station near Jayapura.”

Tungla said that the two projects were on their land and yet they did not know how they would benefit.

“If we are to benefit from the PNG-Indonesian electrification project, then funding for the electrification programme under BDA should be diverted to another social component that will benefit us,” he said.


29) Lockdown: Bomb threat disrupts court hearing

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Update: 11:12AM A BOMB threat at the High Court and Magistrates Court complexes in Lautoka led to the evacuation of about 80 employees from the premises.

West police spokeswoman, Naina Ragigia confirmed that the threat was received by a senior court officer shortly after 8am.

“Court hearings are being disrupted at the moment as everything is on lockdown,” she said.

She said this was the second bomb threat received at the premises along Tavewa Avenue.

Military and National Fire Authority officers are also at the  buildings, which has been shut off to the public.Fijitimes

30) Police to monitor nightclubs
 – The Fiji Police Force will take a strong stand against those who continue to disregard and disrespect the law. This comes after incidents of brawls outside nightclubs and people drinking in public places were highlighted in the media.


31) Nauru refugees to settle in Cambodia next week – report

Updated at 11:49 am on 16 April 2015

A group of refugees on Nauru is expected to be flown to Cambodia as early as next week as part of a controversial re-settlement deal.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports up to 10 people are believed to have agreed to abandon their hopes of living in Australia and make the journey to Phnom Penh.

A letter circulating among refugees on Nauru says the first flight will be as soon as Monday, and provide them an opportunity to live in a safe country, free from persecution and violence.

The letter says refugees will be accommodated in serviced apartments upon their arrival, before case managers find them long-term housing.

The newspaper reports the first group that has indicated they will get on the plane are believed to be from several families.

But the Refugee Action Coalition says there is no hard evidence anyone has yet agreed to go or that a plane had been chartered.RNZI


32) Demand exceeds supply of tarpaulins in Vanuatu

Updated at 4:02 pm on 16 April 2015

Disaster authorities in Vanuatu have turned back frustrated victims of Cyclone Pam in Port Vila, 400 of whom had put in applications for tarpaulins with the National Disaster Management Office.

The Chairman of the National Disaster Management Council, Jotham Napat, says he has only 800 tarpaulins for distribution throughout the whole of the country.

Mr Napat has called for patience and understanding despite of the onset of the rainy season.

He says he understands the concerns and frustrations of people in the capital but feels they have more access to resources than affected communities in the outer islands.

He says his office is working closely with NGOs and donor partners to try and address the emergency relief needs of all people affected by last month’s cyclone.

More help arrives

Meanwhile a Vanuatu-flagged European international cargo ship has donated 40 tonnes of food, over 2,000 sheets of roofing iron and 4,000 planks of hardwood timber to the Vanuatu government.

Captain Tony Zuanich of the Frio Athens said upon delivering the goods that his vessel is one of five international cargo carriers owned by the Athens-based Unimed Glory S.A. operating between Europe and Africa under the Vanuatu flag.

The Captain says they had followed the track of cyclone Pam closely and wanted to help in the construction phase by providing the building materials for people who have lost their homes.

Vanuatu has a ship registry network called Vanuatu Maritime Services Ltd with agents in the Americas, Asia and Europe.

The Australian government has also announced it will be providing 3.9 million US dollars in additional financial support in the aftermath of Cyclone Pam.

The latest funding comes as Australia is withdrawing the military personnel sent in the initial emergency response.

The additional funding will be used for repairing schools, repairing of health infrastructure, restocking medical supplies and strengthening immunisation and storage support for vaccines as well as the ongoing food relief and recovery needs.

This latest initiative brings Australia’s total contribution to Vanuatu’s recovery to 7.7 million US dollars.RNZI


33) PM hands over $1million cheque to pine landowners

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Update: 4:20PM PRIME Minister Voreqe Bainimarama handed over a cheque of $1million to landowners of pine plantations in the country at a ceremony held at Tropik Woods Industries in Lautoka this morning.

He acknowledged the efforts of executive chairman Faiz Khan in turning the group around from losses of $5million in 2010 to operating profits of $21.27million last year.

The PM also handed over six brand new Toyota Hilux vehicles worth $396,000 to six forest-based companies in Lololo, Nadi, Nabou, Ra, Bua and Macuata.Fijitimes


34) Child Helpline gives a voice to those in need

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Update: 2:02PM FIJI’S first National Child Helpline was launched by the Children and Women’s Minister Rosy Akbar at Suva’s Holiday Inn today.

The toll free number 1325 will give Fijian children access to a free helpline service, giving a voice to those in need of support, care and protection.

“The Child helpline will provide an access point for all children in Fiji to seek counseling, advice, referrals to services and to report abuse,” Mrs Akbar said.

” Furthermore the initiative will assist to create awareness on child abuse, educate the Children of Fiji about their rights and provide a confidential avenue for them to seek advice or assistance. The desired outcome of this facility is a reduction in all the social ills that has eluded our children.”

The line is also open to adults to call and raise concerns about children who may be at risk or to seek advice or guidance regarding child protection.

The three major telecommunications companies in Fiji – Digicel, Vodafone and Telecom Fiji Limited – are directly involved in supplying the dedicated line.


35) Child labour, trafficking in Fiji tackled

Updated at 7:43 pm on 16 April 2015

The People’s Community Network says it has helped hundreds of child labourers from squatter settlements into formal education in Fiji.

Groups involved in the Tackling Child Labour Through Education project, or TACKLE, organised by the International Labour Organisation and funded by the European Union, met in Nadi this week.

The conference heard the project helped 1,147 at risk children out of labour, trafficking or exploitation in Fiji between 2008 to 2013.

The network runs a bridging programme to help child labourers from informal settlements to go to school.

Its community facilitator, Ana Roverove says it cannot force a child to go to school, and many do not want to.

“What we saw is that when children are employed, they have a feel that they earn money, so it’s better for them to be at work than to be in school. The majority of them, not really all of them, they help with the money they get to their families.”

The People’s Community Network community facilitator, Ana Roverove.RNZI


36) Northern unions threatened by Pacific rugby potential

Updated at 2:17 pm on 16 April 2015

The International Rugby Players Association says there is a weird tension at rugby’s world governing body, which continues to invest money in the Pacific Islands but is made up of members who are threatened by the potential of teams from Samoa, Fiji and Tonga.

Close to 600 players with Pacific Islands heritage have professional contracts around the world, which is about 15 percent of all full-time players.

The IRPA Executive Director Rob Nichol says the Pacific nations face similar challenges around issues such as player eligibility, finance and foreign clubs targeting their players.

He says on one hand world rugby are doing their bit to help but in the same breath some members feel threatened.

“You’ve got world rugby placing investment into the Islands, so for example Samoa – eight million pounds over the last 10 years of investment into Samoa – but at the same time those that control world rugby, ala the Six Nations or Scotland and the like, they don’t want to see those nations become too strong. On one hand they’re investing, wanting to encourage development and wanting to encourage rugby in those nations and then on the other hand there’s some really key things they could actually do that would significantly advance the ability of those countries to compete – and they’re decisions and changes in regulations that are required at a global level – but they don’t happen because it’s going to prejudice Scotland’s ability to play Samoa”.

Pacific rugby nations are scheduled to come together later this month at the Federation of Oceania Rugby Union’s AGM in Sydney.RNZI

37) Boxing club eyes spots to PNG 

Shalveen Chand
Thursday, April 16, 2015

UPTOWN Boxing Gym is not letting the chance of having its boxers represent Fiji at the Pacific Games slip.

The Fiji Amateur Boxing Association will hold its trial tomorrow night to pick an initial squad to the Pacific Games.

For the Uptown Gym, they will be fielding boxers in every weight category and they are hoping that their boxers will outshine others.

Uptown co-ordinator Sebastian Singh said three of his boxers had a good chance at making it into the squad.

“Akash Kumar who fights in the 60 kilogram category has remained unbeaten in the amateur bouts.

“He will have a tough night as there will be other boxers wanting to beat him,” Singh said.

“Sachin Mudaliar is returning to the amateur bouts. As a professional, he found there were not enough bouts for him.

“He is fighting in the 52kg category. Tom Gaunavou will be fighting in the 75kg category.

“He is a good fighter and we anticipate that he will come out on top.”

“The trials will take place tomorrow afternoon at the Hyundai Fitness Centre. Weigh in will start at 9am while the bouts are scheduled to start at 5pm.”

Meanwhile, FABA is yet to confirm on how many boxers they will be taking to Papua New Guinea.

“Boxing has been given an allocation by Team Fiji, however, the selection panel will determine on the number and make up of boxers,” said FABA president Manasa Baravilala.

“As you are aware the new executives were only voted in four weeks ago and because of amateur boxing’s inactive status due to the AIBA ban, we are behind all the national federations in terms of our team selection, preparation and fundraising. Boxing will find the levy to send a team to PNG.”Fiji times

38) Pacific fest of soccer

Rashneel Kumar
Thursday, April 16, 2015

+ Enlarge this image

Suva’s Abdulwali Aman, left, and George Jeremy try to defend an Amicale FC player during the OFC Championship League match at the ANZ Stadium on Tuesday night. Picture: JONACANI LALAKOBAU

THERE is no doubt soccer fans in Fiji are being treated to some of the best action from the region in the Fiji Airways OFC Champions League being played at the ANZ Stadium in Suva and Govind Park in Ba.

After two rounds of competition, the road to the knockouts has become a bit clearer with only one Fiji team remaining in the race.

The Men in Black are the country’s only hope in the tournament after debutante Suva bombed out following two successive loses.

The Whites, however, should not be discouraged by the losses but be proud of their effort against two of the region’s best in the pool which they don’t deserve to be in.

Suva, which won the national league last year, is in the same pool as the OFC Champions League defending champs Auckland City (New Zealand) and runner-up Amicale FC (Vanuatu) following an error by Fiji Football in submitting the seeding of the Fijian clubs.

Ba is making good use of an easier pool and as true Fijian soccer fans, everyone should rally behind the side in the remaining rounds of the competition.

Oceania Football Confederation deserves acknowledgment for putting together a tournament of this calibre for the best clubs in the region to fight for a place in the coveted FIFA Club World Cup.

But then, is this enough to show the world our true potential?

Auckland City shocked the soccer fraternity after claiming a bronze medal in last year’s Club World Cup. There is no doubt of the mileage Oceania football must have received from this feat. But what about at the national level?

Is OFC doing enough? The FIFA ranking released on April 9 don’t really concur.

There are 11 nations that fall under OFC and all of them dropped in the latest ranking. New Caledonia, which is the second best ranked nation in Oceania on 143, is the worst mover having lost 23 places in the April ranking. Four Oceania nations are ranked outside 200. Not long ago, we were berating Fiji’s worst ranking of 192. We have now plunged a further four places to 196.

Its not that Oceania can’t become a powerhouse in international soccer as Australia which was one of our own not too long ago now ruling Asia and showing that it can be done. Perhaps it’s time for OFC to develop more competitions for national teams than just the quadrennial OFC Nations Cup.

It might help improve the image of soccer in the region.Fijitimes



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