Commonwealth observer team to offer electoral advice

Hubert Ingraham

Former Bahamas PM Hubert Ingraham. Photo: thebahamasweekly.com

Commonwealth Observer mission for the election will give practical recommendations to help strengthen Vanuatu’s electoral process based on their observations. The group is headed by a former Prime Minister of the Bahamas, Hubert Ingraham. They arrive today from Australia, Guyana, Fiji and Uganda. They remain until 5 days after the elections, reports the Daily Post. A former ombudsman, an MP, an editor, an election supervisor and a gender equity expert are included in their ranks.

The court case being brought by a former chargé d’affaires in Beijing, Willie Toama, will not delay the snap poll. Toama’s name was not included in the official list of candidates. Daily Post has the story on page 1 today. They also re-confirm, Charles Lini’s name is now officially included.

Radio Vanuatu has had elements from the Moderates continuing to insist that Serge Vohor in prison Read the rest of this entry »

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Vanuatu’s farcical diplomacy on Abhkazia: a refresher [Global Intelligence Files]

From Wikileak’s Global Intelligence Files, an archive of emails hacked from US “global intelligence” company Stratfor by hacker collective Anonymous, comes this article from Russian english-language newspaper the Moscow Times. It provides a useful summary of Vanuatu’s diplomatic blundering over the recognition of Abhkazia in 2011, which made Vanuatu an international joke, thanks to the chequebook diplomacy and underhanded dealings of Juris Gulbis (yet another bloody Saken!), ‘Mme. 15%’ Thi Tham Goiset and Foreign Minister Alfred Carlot.
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Moscow Times
June 8, 2011

A New State’s Guide to Gaining International Recognition

By Nikolaus von Twickel

It’s not easy gaining recognition as an independent country.

Abkhazia, a sliver of Black Sea land recognized as sovereign by no one but Russia
and three other countries, created a stir last week when it announced that it had
convinced a fifth UN member country, the Pacific nation of Vanuatu, to recognize
its independence from Georgia.

But then the UN ambassador of Vanuatu home to more than 80 volcanic islands, 113
indigenous languages and tribal bungee jumping denied the claim and insisted
that his government was dealing with Georgia instead.

Read the rest of this entry »


Lands Minister Steven Kalsakau acts against interests of kastom land owners in Mangaliliu land sale

Map showing customary land area leased by Lands Minister Steven Kalsakau against the wishes of the people of Lelepa and Mangaliliu

Map showing customary land area leased by Lands Minister Steven Kalsakau against the wishes of the people of Lelepa and Mangaliliu

Lands Minister Steven Kalsakau has approved a lease over large area of the customary lands of Lelepa and Mangaliliu (Lelema) to a Mele man for 75 years, against the wishes of the customary land owners. Mangaliliu Chief Mormor said at the time of the creation of a customary lease application for their own lands,  back in May: “We want a custom land lease ourselves, over our land, to protect ourselves and our land”. The North Efate land owners now have to protect themselves from the Minister of Lands. Daily Post leads with this story today. It covers how the chiefs of North Efate wrote to the Minister requesting a halt to all further land dealings in their area after nearly two years of consultation and mapping and for six community leases to be issued so their lands could truly remain theirs in perpetuity.

Lelepa and Mangaliliu chiefs signing an agreement to protect their customary lands in May 2012

Lelepa and Mangaliliu chiefs signing an agreement to protect their customary lands in May 2012

The Land Reform Act [Cap 123] gives the Minister for Lands the power to approve leases on behalf of customary owners if the land is in dispute. However, the Lelema lands are not under dispute and are unalienated. Minister Kalsakau here is acting in breach of the Act and against the letter of the Constitution. There is speculation too that the Mele lessee is just a front man for powerful foreign business interests.

Read the rest of this entry »


National carrier Air Vanuatu announces financial year profit

Today’s big news is Air Vanuatu announces a profit. Chairman Simeon Athy said a commitment had been made by the Board in 2009 to get the books in order and return the national carrier to profitability.

“Under the leadership of CEO Joseph Laloyer, we implemented a strict policy not to allow the national carrier to operate as a free-for-all”, said Athy. We, the public, can take this to mean the airline has now freed itself from political interference, with its latest Board now comprising senior civil service professionals. It has increased its passenger load and hopes to augment the domestic fleet, neither of were possible if misuse by politicians was allowed to continue.

Acting Ombudsman Alain Molgos has promised an investigation into the sale of Government land leases to civil servants by Caretaker Minister of Lands, Steven Kalsakau, Radio Vanuatu reports. They quote Radio New Zealand International, which said leases were being sold in the Independence Park area. This blog has previously mentioned Freswota and Korman leases for sale. The Council of Ministers in 2010 suspended the sale of Government and public land, but the Minister concerned has already been found responsible for other sales of land leases that belong to the people of Vanuatu. Read the rest of this entry »


Carcasses claims land owner support for KuTH Energy Takara geothermal project

“No journalist turned up for the morning Radio Vanuatu news bulletin”, we were told by the early morning duty announcer at 6 a.m. today. How thoroughly unprofessional, VBTC. This blog therefore brings you only main items from last evening’s news.

Caretaker Finance Minister Moana Carcasses spoke of the support of certain land owners at Takara for the KuTH energy project when launching the KuTH book concerning the project at the Chiefs’ Nakamal yesterday. He saw the proiect as one in which everyone will win — electricity consumers and investors alike. Landowners are key and nothing can proceed without their approval, he said. Major land disputes continue in the area. The project is in the national interest. Radio Vanuatu broadcast part of his address in its current affairs unit of the radio news bulletin.

Daily Post leads with evidence of how citizenship applications are being spearheaded by middlemen. Fast-tracking also included Read the rest of this entry »


Phocea crew member leaves Vanuatu despite court order to stay

The Independent reports that Phocea crew member and model, Faviola Brugger Dadis, has left Vanuatu despite a court-issued order for all crew to remain in Vanuatu. The Prosecutor is appealing against Read the rest of this entry »


Extraordinary session of Parliament, Takara geothermal project land owner group decision both due next week

The first extraordinary session of Parliament was yesterday moved to Monday next week by the Speaker. This is intended to give more time to MPs to consider the government Bills before the House.

The Daily Post headline of “all Takara disputing parties want [geothermal] electricity” is undoubtedly correct. However, the KuTH Energy Managing Director David McDonald has told Daily Post his company has been waiting for over a year for the four parties disputing the potential drilling site to agree. “We won’t drill until we know that the land issue is clear,” he said. “We want to help you replace expensive electricity, using diesel fuel, with clean, cheap electricity.” Daily Post says a court declaration on the rightful custom owner is to be made next week. KuTH has prepared brochures explaining their project in Bislama, Ngunese and the language of Emau.

Leader of the Opposition Rialuth Serge Vohor spoke of the need to oppose corruption as one of his Read the rest of this entry »