9 March is Matthew and Hunter Day. At 1:30 pm on that day in 1983 the Vanuatu flag was hoisted on Hunter Island, known to the people of Aneityum as Leka, and the national anthem sung as the active volcano was reclaimed for Tafea, Matthew and Hunter being uninhabited remote outliers of the southernmost province.
The two islands had been administered by France from the French Residency, Port Vila, during Condominium times, but as became apparent when the Dunkerquoise threatened to fire on Euphrosyne as the Vanuatu government vessel reached Matthew in 1983, France was determined to hold on to the two outliers as if they belonged to New Caledonia.
But the flag had been raised — on Hunter Island, the previous day.
It was thought a ceremony was to be organized for the day today, but Read the rest of this entry »
In his New Year message, President Baldwin Lonsdale has spoken of the God-given challenges Vanuatu faces at this time. He feels that the fresh elections last year were necessary to bring Vanuatu a new, more youthful and better educated leadership. They were needed to ensure the economic prosperity not possible because of the political instability of previous years. (Radio Vanuatu)
For his New Year address to the people of the Republic, Prime Minister Charlot Salwai concentrated on the new blueprint the country had been offered for a sustainable prosperity with his Government’s adoption of Read the rest of this entry »
Declassified documents from the Anglo-French Condominium have revealed that Britain and France made plans to use military force in 1975 to suppress the indigenous independence movement, says Radio New Zealand International.
“Colonial officials wanted to stop what they thought might become a revolution to overthrow white supremacy”, reports RNZI.
Says the RNZI’s reporter Ben Lowings in London:
In 1975, a British Black Power activist, Roosevelt Brown, was holed up with his supporters in the Vanuatu national party on the northern island of Aoba. British colonial officials had at first let him into the country believing him to be a United Nations employee on holiday. They soon changed their minds, considering him a subversive, who was likely to resist their attempts to arrest him… The Ministry of Defence in London drew up detailed plans to despatch a warship, a landing party, transport planes and soldiers from Hong Kong. But officials were worried about whether Indonesia and the Philippines would allow the use of their airspace. They also feared French forces in Vanuatu had equipment incompatible with the British military. It was also suspected that the French were much more eager to use lethal force.”
While Phocea remains in Vila Harbour on its allegedly forged papers today, the Director of Ports and Harbours, Mr Morris Kaloran, was suspended last Friday, Daily Post tells us today. Questions concerning the request of the Brussels based EU representative for Vanuatu have also been raised. Vanuatu’s Ambassador to the European Union, Roy Mickey Joy, asked for PNG assistance for the plane taking the two Sakens to PNG. And overseas media tell us quite a bit more today, most significantly that Vu Anh Quan Saken and Charles Henry Saken are wanted by Interpol on charges of drug and arms smuggling. Their private charter flight originated in Mali in west Africa, where radical Islamic forces have take control over half the country, and a military intervention by France has just begun, an odd destination for a joy flight. The Daily Post page 1 story has government spokesman Jeff Joel Patunvanu telling us that Foreign Minister Alfred Carlot’s trip to Port Moresby is private, meaning it was not an official Vanuatu Government trip for Carlot to meet with the two Sakens. Serious consequences are likely for the Sato Kilman government, as it seems his Ministers and overseas diplomats have been aiding and abetting drug and arms smugglers. As we noted several weeks ago, Vanuatu has no laws in place to deal with persons wanted internationally for war crimes. Which perhaps explains why Vu Anh Quan and his associates want to set up shop in Vanuatu.
It appears that Vu Anh Quan and Charles Henry were both born in Vanuatu, members of Vanuatu’s Vietnamese population. Vu Anh Quan is a childhood friend of Foreign Minister Alfred Carlot. More on this to follow.