Vanuatu Daily News Digest | 1 December 2015

Daily Post starts today with the news that a snap national election would cost VT 187 million. It also means that the Caretaker Council of Ministers will have to be approached for that sum as a matter of urgency, no budget for next year being approved yet because of the dissolution. Principal Electoral Officer Charles Vatu pointed out that the election would have to be held before 24 January.

The Electoral Office has also told Radio Vanuatu News that the names of the candidates for the Sanma provincial election on 17 December will be announced on Friday this week. Santo and Malo people may well find they are going to the polls just before Christmas and shortly after New Year. The province provided more than its fair share of the MPs now in Correctional Services, too, so toktok politik will be doing the rounds in the northern town’s nakamals throughout the festive season.

And Santo’s political gabfest will be proceeding as the national broadcaster has closed Studio 5 North. Radio Vanuatu must be intending to explain: the news is yet to be written. We have not yet been officially told.

It is interesting to note, as does Daily Post today, that we are almost exactly 18 years after President Leye’s dissolution of Parliament (29 November 1977), witnessing the same thing all over again. That was for a 20 January election. But that dissolution was proved null and void, by Justice Lunabek. The present dissolution is also likely to be in the courts.

The Caretaker PM’s angry accusations, covered in the Digest yesterday, against the Caretaker Opposition’s Ralph Regenvanu, are strongly denied by Regenvanu himself in today’s Daily Post. Regenvanu was accused of using ‘back-door’ methods to bypass procedures at the State House when in fact his officers were simply following the process required by the State Law Office. Kilman asserted his perceived need to guard the sovereignty of the President. But Ralph Regenvanu points out Kilman’s complacency as regards the President’s sovereignty during the pardoning fiasco. "I am happy to be judged by the people," Regenvanu says. "I am not happy to be falsely accused by the Caretaker Prime Minister."

Radio Vanuatu News this morning added to the news that the Asian Development Bank and Australia are assisting with the Port Vila Urban Development Project to the extent of 3.35 billion vatu. This begins with roads and drainage, footpaths and street lighting on the town’s main roads. Tenders are being requested during this month for work to begin in January. The work is expected to take 2 years.

The commemoration of Port Vila Day on Unity Day confuses people, Pastor Alan Nafuki pointed out on Sunday at a ceremony conducted by the Port Vila Ministers’ Fraternal. He reminded everyone that the day commemorated from November 1977 was one of a period of most dis-unity amongst the people of the New Hebrides, with rioting and the use of tear-gas. (Daily Post)

The British Friends of Vanuatu has recently collected a huge sum of money to purchase books for primary schools greatly Pam-damaged in Shefa and Tafea. A handing-over ceremony took place yesterday attended by the British High Commissioner, Dominic Meiklejohn, on his final visit. The books are all covered in plastic which, it is hoped, will offer better protection than has been usual in previous cyclone seasons. (Daily Post)