US Navy deploys in Vanuatu waters as part of regional maritime law enforcement push

Commanding officer of USS Rushmore Cmdr. John Ryan speaks to guests during a ship tour, while anchored in Port Vila harbour. The vessel is deployed in support of the Oceana Maritime Security Initiative (OMSI), a US program supporting maritime law enforcement operations in Oceania. Photo: US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kryzentia Weiermann

Commanding officer of USS Rushmore Cmdr. John Ryan speaks to guests during a ship tour, while anchored in Port Vila harbour this week. The vessel is deployed as part of the Oceana Maritime Security Initiative (OMSI), a US program supporting maritime law enforcement operations in Oceania. Photo: US Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kryzentia Weiermann

The USS Rushmore, a United States amphibious dock landing ship, disembarked maritime law enforcement personnel last week and provided tours of the ship for invited Port Vila guests. The commanding officer said personnel are assisting regional maritime security enhancement “and keeping the sea lanes open for the benefit of all.”

The annual conference of Melanesian Indigenous Land Defence Alliance (MILDA) has rejected any Read the rest of this entry »

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Calls for kava exporter’s licence to be cancelled after US discovery of 60 tonnes of tainted kava

Tainted kava threatens Vanuatu's kava industry. Shown here is ground Vanuatu kava for sale by a US retailer

Tainted kava threatens Vanuatu’s kava export industry: shown here is ground Vanuatu kava sold by a US retailer

Adulterated kava exporting hits the headlines again. The Agriculture Minister and EU Ambassador are both calling for the kava export licence of Peter Colmar’s Sarami Plantation to be terminated. EU Ambassador Joy reports some 60 tonnes of tainted kava being shipped to four companies in the United States last year. It was all non-noble and non-root material. The ambassador’s research has been assisted by German kava expert Dr Mathias Schmidt who helped in having the EU ban on kava from island countries lifted.

Len Garae reports Dr Schmidt saying as much as 28 tons of ground leaves and stalks went to one US importer, Kumars Import. Schmidt is quoted saying “I thought the Vanuatu Kava Act had been changed, but if someone like Sarami Plantation can sell such quantities without any consequences, there must be more than just one person closing their eyes. We need to stop this before Read the rest of this entry »


Historic agreement gives Vanuatu access to US Coast Guard vessels for maritime law enforcement

Minister for Internal Affairs Alfred Maoh and US Ambassador ot Vanuatu Catherine Ebert-Gray at the signing of the Law Enforcement Accord and Ship Rider Agreement between the two countries. Photo: US Embassy Port Moresby

Minister for Internal Affairs Alfred Maoh and US Ambassador to Vanuatu Catherine Ebert-Gray sign the Law Enforcement Accord and Ship Rider Agreement last Monday. Photo: US Embassy Port Moresby

Vanuatu and the United States have sealed a new maritime law enforcement agreement. The Law Enforcement Accord and Ship Rider Agreement between the two countries, signed on Monday, will allow Vanuatu’s law enforcement officers to use United States Coast Guard ships as platforms for boarding suspicious ships anywhere in Vanuatu’s EEZ. This is to combat illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing activity. Other Pacific countries to have signed similar agreements with the USA are Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Palau, FSM and the Cook Islands. Ambassador Catherine Ebert-Gray said that the United States wants to build maritime security in partnership with Pacific island countries. The agreement has helped Kiribati achieve US$4 million in fines in a single year. (Radio Vanuatu)

The first ever off-loading of frozen tuna fish from the Vanuatu EEZ will be witnessed tomorrow morning at the Read the rest of this entry »


Vanuatu daily news digest | 24 January 2013

The Vanuatu National Provident Fund board has terminated General Manager Anniva Tarilongi, who has been under suspension on full pay for the last five months. Six personnel recruited during Tarilongi’s term were also terminated after similar periods of suspension. The announcement of the terminations was made on Radio Vanuatu news Wednesday night. It was also reported Wednesday by Radio New Zealand International that Tarilongi was first employed by Telecom Vanuatu where she also recruited close friends and paid them high salaries.

The US Embassy in Papua New Guinea has dismissed newspaper reports in PNG that US Ambassador Walter North met with Vanuatu’s Foreign Minister Alfred Carlot, reports RNZI. Carlot and the Vanuatu Government provided conflicting accounts as to why Carlot was in PNG, said the Embassy. However, Embassy spokesman Regis Prevot advised the media that no meeting took place.


Vanuatu daily news digest | 22 January 2013

Minister Alfred Carlot’s visit to meet Anh Quan Saken in Port Moresby had nothing to do with the ownership of the ship Phocea, he tells us today on VBTC Radio News. He travelled from Brisbane with the PNG foreign minister and received proper protocol treatment on arrival in PNG. He was simply using every opportunity to carry out his duties as Foreign Minister, he says, needing funds for setting up new overseas missions and for paying such debts as UNESCO membership, he says. No mention of collecting brown paper envelopes in preparation of the upcoming Provincial elections, however. Minister Carlot wanted to clarify to the public that Pascal Anh Quan Saken and Henry Charles Saken were on a diplomatic mission for the Vanuatu Government through the Council of Ministers which appointed them. We’d like to see the Government gazette where this appointment is confirmed, because last time this was publically broached, PM Sato Kilman was trying to put some distance between Quan and himself. The two Vanuatu naturalised citizens, according to Interpol and Pacific transnational crime experts, are known for their involvement with the drugs and the arms trades. The PNG Opposition Leader Belden Namah has spoken out against the visit of Carlot and the Sakens on Radio New Zealand International. And PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill confirmed with Radio New Zealand International that Minister Carlot arrived on a private jet belonging to the Sakens. Minister Carlot’s passport was held while investigations continued, he said. However, following a meeting between the Sakens and the PNG Government, their departure was permitted on Sunday night at 8pm, even though PNG police wanted the plane, passengers and crew held while they investigated.

An anonymous commenter to this blog says that contrary to what we reported yesterday, Vu Anh Quan and his brother Charles Henry only began their association with Vanuatu two years ago, and are not ni-Vanuatu of Vietnamese origin, but from France. The commenter also says Alfred Carlot’s claim that Vu Anh Quan is his childhood friend is a falsehood.

The Director of Ports and Harbours, Morris Kaloran, says his suspension is politically motivated, and that the reasons given for his suspension by Government have already been dealt with by the Public Service Commission, he tells Daily Post. “It’s all to do with the issue of the mega-yacht Phocea. The government wants to release Phocea, but with my presence as Director of Ports and Harbours and applying the Vanuatu laws, we just cannot simply release Phocea like that,” said Kaloran.

Daily Post today, like VBTC News, also carries Foreign Minister Alfred Carlot’s refutation of his contacts with the Sakens having anything to do with Phocea, which hardly seems to matter now. So we now have a fourth Saken in addition to Pascal Vu Anh Quan, ‘Mme. ‘15%’ Thi Tham Goiset and Juris Gulbis: Charles Henry Saken. Presumably the giaman “university” at Pango is named after this Saken, the brother of Pascal Vu Anh Quan. We wonder how much this kastom honorific retails for. The Nagriamel movement is doing a sterling job of polluting the kastom of Santo by giving these questionable individuals this title.

Daily Post carries further information from the PNG Post Courier concerning the Sakens’ mystery flight aboard their 737 from war-torn Mali in West Africa, through the Maldives and Singapore to Jacksons Airport, Port Moresby. The mystery plane was allowed to leave PNG having breached no laws of that country, though the O’Neill Government, like the Kilman Government, has a history of allowing suspect people off the hook. And against the wishes of the PNG police. Sound familiar, Vanuatu readers? Post Courier also revealed a visit to the new US Ambassador to PNG, Walter North, by Minister Carlot, who refused to talk to Post Courier. Daily Post also carries further details of the Phocea’s fake registration.


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 »


Breaking news: US military team recovers remains of WW2 airmen in Santo

US military teams have been in Santo for the past 45 days conducting a search and archaeological recovery of the remains of four American airmen lost when their aircraft went down during World War II in the mountains of Santo and on Mavea. Local villagers located the crash sites and have been assisting with the searches. Two teams deployed from Hawai’i to excavate several aircraft crash sites in search of Americans who remain unaccounted for from World War II. The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command conducts global search, recovery, and laboratory operations to identify missing Americans from past conflicts in support the Department of Defense’s personnel accounting efforts and to honour their war dead. Photo credit on all images: DoD Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Adelita C. Mead. Read more here.

Recovery team members take advantage of recent heavy rainfall to wet screen excavated soil looking for remains and material evidence that will help identify missing WW2 military personnel, Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu Sept. 3, 2012

Recovery team members take advantage of recent heavy rainfall to wet screen excavated soil looking for remains and material evidence that will help identify missing WWII military personnel, Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu Sept. 3, 2012.

A helicopter sling loads lumber and bamboo onto the recovery operations site, Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu, Aug. 23, 2012

A helicopter sling loads lumber and bamboo onto the recovery operations site, Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu, Aug. 23, 2012.

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