Vanuatu daily news digest | 17 September 2014

Today is Vanuatu’s Presidential Election Day and Fiji’s National Election Day. The latter concerns us less (and many of us not at all), but Radio Australia was this morning reporting a peaceful and enthusiastic turnout of the many Fijians aiming to return democracy to the country. They were coping with the huge ballot papers consisting of a series of numbers, each of which represents a candidate. The way in which the vote is counted and how it will be distributed throughout parties is something which should be of interest to the Electoral Commission here. Radio Australia gave interesting commentary on this form of proportional representation as being practised from today in Fiji. Election monitoring reported no difficulties.

On the other hand there are difficulties in election day in Vanuatu, and these are said by Daily Post to be due to neither the Government nor the Opposition having the numbers. However, we should not forget that numbers depend to some degree on the votes of the other non-MP Electoral College members, the provincial presidents. And VBTC was re-broadcasing a message to the President of Torba Erick Shedrack to catch the mid-day plane in order to take his place in the Electoral College. The sitting of the College may be delayed until his arrival?

Suspended Police Commissioner Arthur Caulton is seeking legal advice in the matter of his suspension. No reasons were given in his suspension letter from Police Service Commission Chairman Sam Dan Avok, nor in discussion with the Chairman. The media have reported reasons which do not immediately suggest serious impropriety, so the Commissioner’s seeking of legal advice is surely appropriate. The Police Commissioner post has been subject to threats from wannabe commissioners since long ago, but in recent times has seemed to be safe and in reliable hands.

Len Garae in Daily Post reports the Chairman of the West Papua Unification Committee, Pastor Alan Nafuki, expecting 80 to attend the Unification Committee conference in Port Vila, new dates for which are 1 – 4 October. The Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) hopes all pro-Independence committees will be represented. In addition there will also be the Pacific Conference of Churches and media representatives from many countries.