Political leaders in Tafea province abandon UMP for Prime Minister’s RMC party

Flag of Vanuatu's TAFEA province

Flag of Vanuatu’s TAFEA province

An interesting political development… Tafea Outer Islands leaders until now of the formerly heavyweight grouping of the Union of Moderate Parties (UMP) are turning to the Prime Ministers’ Reunification Movement for Change (RMC). They are from Erromango and Aneityum. The decision was taken last week, says Radio Vanuatu, after the court decision relating to eligibility to participate in the Tafea Province elections this coming Thursday. Four provinces are voting this week. In advance of the announcement of the intending candidates to move to PM Salwai’s party, commonly understood to be trying very hard to achieve unity, Leader of the Opposition Ishmael Kalsakau was on Tanna to try to unify the UMP political groupings, some following the former Chairman Serge Vohor and others following a leader chosen when Vohor was convicted in the bribery scandal, Jacques Mariango. The location of the very heart of the so-called moderate parties may well be Read the rest of this entry »


Sandalwood valued at Vt 208 million seized by Customs

Vanuatu sandalwood packed in container. Photo: © vanuatudigest.com

Six containers of sandalwood allegedly from New Caledonia have been seized by Customs with a claimed value of Vt 208 million. This is big Read the rest of this entry »

Vanuatu daily news digest | 22 December 2012

51 health professionals are protesting the political removal of their Director General, Howard Aru, and demanding his immediate re-instatement. They are also insisting on the removal of his replacement, Graham Patas, allegedly appointed by Health Minister Don Ken for reasons of “personal interest”. In their letter to Prime Minister Sato Kilman, the senior health staff also object to the political transferral of a former Director General of Health, Mark Bebe. Daily Post quotes from the letter of protest of the 51 to the Prime Minister: “it becomes very obvious now that the current Minister of Health will never be able to work with any best graduate scholars from Vanuatu, who may determine to uphold transparency and good governance.” The previous government of PM Sato Kilman politicised appointments for directors general earlier this year.

Yesterday’s demonstration against the death of Joseph Marae demanded an end to lawlessness. A banner carried by the demonstrators also stated it was against corruption. The link is not entirely clear, nor the story yet complete. The death of the respected elder was originally described as a traffic accident. The subsequent ransacking of his property and damage to the bus allegedly causing the accident have had no official explanation. The Vaturisu Council of Chiefs of Efate has expressed great concern at such loss of life on Efate and laid down its own set of fines for failure to respect the Vaturisu nasara. The Maraki Vanua Ariki council of chiefs also met to consider the resolutions of the Silae council of chiefs of Tongoa. Maraki Vanua Ariki supports the South Efate Council of Chiefs’ resolution that troublemakers from other islands be deported to their home island.

However, those suggesting deporting people to other islands are seemingly ignorant of the fact that Vanuatu’s Constitution guarantees freedom of movement. The Constitution also says that all people, chiefs included, have a duty to respect this fundamental right. It is time for people to drop this ridiculous rhetoric and find a practical solution that respects the Constitution. A functioning police force that is actually capable and willing to enforce Vanuatu’s laws would be a good place to start.

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North Efate chiefs furious over theft of their land by Minister for Lands Kalsakau

North Efate chiefs are both surprised and upset at Minister of Lands Steven Kalsakau’s taking their land from them. Kalsakau issued two new leases last month in favour of Kalorib Poilapa of Mele village for 2,300 hectares of Lelepa/Mangaliliu (Lelema) land on which the Lelema people had applied for a community lease. They are urging the Minister to revoke the new lease. Kalorib Poilapa is believed to be a ‘front man’ for big agricultural interests. The Lands Department says the Minister will hold a press conference next week to explain rural and urban land sales.

Prosecution delays may mean the Phocea case is dismissed, is today’s Daily Post front page headline. The Prosecution was not happy with the case as presented by the investigators — readers will remember the first and principal investigator was suspended by the Minister concerned early into his inquiries. A second reason for the delay is the absence of Read the rest of this entry »