Documents reveal 1975 plans for military suppression of New Hebrides independence movement

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.”

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Vanuatu daily news digest | 13 December 2012

Vanuatu’s new Ambassador to China, Nguk Yang Dennis Nai, has agreed to comply with President Iolu Abbil’s request that Vanuatu’s embassy in Beijing not sell Vanuatu passports. Radio Vanuatu News reported this yesterday, and Daily Post today quotes Pres. Abbil’s request: “Vanuatu passports are very important documents to any ni-Vanuatu citizen, and that must be respected at all times.” He said he does not want to hear reports that the Vanuatu embassy in China is involved in selling Vanuatu passports.

Radio New Zealand International aired a rather breathless story this morning about how Port Vila ground to a “virtual standstill” for the state funeral of Harry Iauko yesterday. It didn’t, as anyone who was actually in Port Vila could have told RNZI’s reporter. Daily Post’s senior purple prose writer Len Garae was also reported saying that “the streets were packed with people standing quietly to show their last respects”, which is another falsehood. RNZI’s story seems to be predicated on the assumption that the death of a significant public figure automatically elicits reverence from the general public, which, in Iauko’s case, sori blo talem, simply is not true. In death, as in life, Iauko continues to divide opinion.

The Supreme Court recounted the votes for the Santo Rural constituency this morning in the presence of Chief Justice Vincent Lunabek, the Electoral Commission and a lawyer from the State Law Office. The recount is required due to a successful electoral dispute petition in that constituency. No word yet on the result.

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Vanuatu daily news digest | 8 December 2012

Prime Minister Sato Kilman yesterday said he was not pleased to see the Opposition boycott of Parliament that occurred after the Supreme Court granted the Opposition request for a Parliamentary sitting. Kilman said the move had cost the people of Vanuatu a lot financially. He said the Opposition boycotted the sitting so it could win additional MPs over to their side before Monday’s debate of the no confidence motion in Parliament. The Speaker was directed by the Supreme Court to hold the sitting, reported Radio Vanuatu News.

The Opposition boycott of Parliament yesterday saw only two Opposition MPs attend, Ralph Regenvanu and Tony Wright, meaning a total of only 31 MPs present, not a quorum, says Daily Post. It was also reported that not all Opposition MPs were present in Vila in time for the sitting, not surprising given the confusion surrounding whether or not there would be a sitting.

Vanuatu vs Tahiti in the womens' semi-finals of the Beach Volleyball Oceania Championship, Papeete, French Polynesia, 2/12/2012.

Vanuatu vs Tahiti in the womens’ semi-finals of the Beach Volleyball Oceania Championship, Papeete, French Polynesia, 2/12/2012.

The Vanuatu beach volleyball team won the Oceania Championships in Papeete, French Polynesia this week, beating Australia in the final. But this fantastic news is tinged with sadness– the team may be forced to skip tournaments next year due to a lack of funds. Business houses, here’s a huge positive branding opportunity, as Vanuatu Volleyball Federation President Debbie Masaufakalo points out: “the results speak for themselves — they’re winning — and we get huge press exposure. Fantastic for sponsors to jump on board: get their logos on our uniforms; get the TV coverage; get the media exposure and join us in the World Championships.” Who will step up and help our team?

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