The Pacific Islands Forum has deployed a team of electoral observers to scrutinize the January 22 General Election.
They will join the Commonwealth’s team of electoral observers to enhance the transparency and accountability of the General Election. They will be present throughout every stage of the voting and counting process on election day, to help ensure that the vote is free and fair.
The Forum Observer Team comprises Mr Pita Vuki, Commissioner and Supervisor of Elections of the Kingdom of Tonga, and Ms Taggy Tangimetua, Chief Electoral Officer of the Cook Islands. The team is supported by the Forum Secretariat in Suva, Fiji.
The Forum Observer Team will be based in Efate from 14—25 January. They will meet with Vanuatu Government representatives, civil society, churches, development partners, regional and international agencies and the diplomatic corps ahead of polling day to gain an enhanced understanding of the electoral and political environment in Vanuatu.
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Opposition leader Edward Natapei answers MP Robert Bohn Jr.’s accusations in Daily Post that the Opposition is the cause of instability by pointing out that Bohn signed an MOU with the Sato Kilman bloc, then held discussions with the Opposition, then formed a bloc (‘Cloud Zero’) with Independent MP Richard Namel “so that whoever got into government, the ‘Cloud Zero’ bloc would be in government.” Bohn at least admits the Opposition “captured the moral high ground”, even if he chose not to meet it there.
Bohn also apologises to his Epi constituency for his inability to provide an upgrade to the Burumba clinic there because expenses related to the motion of no confidence cost the country vt500,000, he said. Natapei points out that most of this sum of money has not been paid, anyway. The Opposition Leader also reminds us of the appalling state of the country’s finances, as detailed in the Motion. With some teachers still unpaid, the 2012 budget remains in disarray and there is no Parliament-approved budget for 2013. The situation is not unusual in Vanuatu. When Parliament does not sit for a Budget before the end of the year, the law provides for what is called a “supply bill”. This allows for three months of appropriation (January to March). The appropriation is based on the previous year’s budget, and does not need the approval of Parliament. This was quite common in the late 1990s and early 2000s when Vanuatu had political uncertainty. So, basic Government services should continue — to the extent they are currently actually being delivered. Whether or not this brings joy to the people of Burumba depends on what might have been decided for them by the Kilman Government. Both Radio Vanuatu News and Daily Post this weekend carry the Opposition Leader’s comments on Robert Bohn’s opinion piece.
News sources reporting the story of the abandoned yacht that ran aground in Tonga with 204kg of cocaine and a rotting corpse aboard report that the Australian Federal Police have been working with law enforcement authorities in a number of countries to close “vulnerabilities” in the South Pacific, which are increasingly being exploited by crime syndicates.
It appears that Vanuatu is currently one of these “vulnerabilities”. Our sources close to the action here in Vanuatu report that several international criminal syndicates have stepped up their drug smuggling activity via Vanuatu following the expulsion of the AFP in May this year.
What will today’s new government do to fix this?
Phocea still under detention is Daily Post’s cover headline this morning. The story highlights what was learned from the Retriever 1 story of just six years ago. Remember its connection with yet another conman, Peter Foster? At least this time, fines — albeit minimal — are being paid (we presume) for the offences of the crew and their captain. But there is no crew qualified to sail the vessel away as they all have only forged documents. And the ship itself has only forged papers. So we must force Pascal Vu Anh Quan Saken to return to Vanuatu to answer charges which the Fraud Squad (which handled the Retriever 1 case) can easily arrange, if the Government will only reinstate it again: no sign of that yet. Police in Vanuatu were told many lies by Retriever 1‘s Kell Walker and Peter Foster, and it needs the Fraud Squad to get to the truth, as they did with the heroin haul at Eton.
The solution to the Phocea issue remains the same today as yesterday. The incoming Government that forms next week must apologise to the Police Capacity Building Project for sending the AFP away — and ask for them to come back. But first, please get them to send their inspectors with appropriate tool kits to just check the hundreds of likely hiding places for any of the interesting things they might just find. It’s only two days since a yacht suspected of drug running, and of having a decomposing human body on board, was found off Vava’u in Tonga. Tonga was the Phocea’s last port of call before it came here. The connection to the drug smuggling route west from South America, where Vu Anh Quan has interests, through Tonga and Vanuatu is far too well-known to let continue. No government should be giving an official imprimatur to this illicit trade. Well done Police and Fraud Unit, Ports and Maritime and bring back the AFP please, new government on Monday.
The Phocea farce continued this morning in the Magistrates’ Court with American model Faviola Brugger Dadis being fined just Vt 70,000 for obstructing Vanuatu Customs, Maritime and Police officials when they boarded the vessel after it entered Vanuatu illegally. The maximum fine is Vt 2,000,000 and two years in prison.
The Vt 70,000 fine was handed down by Senior Magistrate Stephen Felix.
Daily Post today points out that the loss of Vanuatu fish sold in Fiji is much greater than what has been stated. It is greater than what is claimed by the international environmental NGO Sea Shepherd and much, much greater than what is stated by the the Department of Fisheries. Daily Post also points out that there are Taiwanese vessels with local agreements and others without, and Vanuatu loses out on all. The statements were made by the DG of Finance, Georges Maniuri.
Daily Post today also gives further details of the encounter between the young man on the Etas road, apprehended and threatened by an unidentified person (offering a large sum of money) wanting to know the home of a senior civil servant. The report comes from senior detective George Twomey. The Phocea affair is showing such a great deal of local as well as foreign nastiness, this website repeats its opinion that all concerned of whatever level should be incarcerated until Read the rest of this entry »