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.

International observers to monitor October 30 election

Vanuatu’s Electoral Office says an international observer team will visit selected polling stations on election day, Tuesday October 30 and will monitor the running of the election at those stations.

Transparency International Vanuatu had offered such assistance in the interests of ensuring a properly fair and democratic vote several weeks ago, but did not receive a reply from Government.

The Acting Principal Electoral Officer, Lionel Kaluat, now says the plan 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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US military team in Santo to recover remains of American WW2 servicemen

US military team has been in Santo for the past 45 days conducting a search and archaeological recovery of the remains of four American airmen lost when their planes went down during World War II in the mountains of southern Santo and on Mavea island. Local villagers have been assisting with the search. The US Department of Defense’s policy is to recover the remains of all missing personnel and return them to their relatives. The US has more than 83,000 military personnel missing from past conflicts. More images to follow.

US MIA recovery efforts in Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu

Dr. Nicholas Passalacqua, a forensic anthropologist and recovery leader with the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command, excavates a grid unit with the assistance of Ms. Kelley Esh on a remote mountain site on Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu Aug. 30, 2012. Two specialized teams deployed from Hawaii to excavate several ground and aircraft crash sites in search of Americans who remain unaccounted-for from World War II. (DoD Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Adelita C. Mead)

The President of the Democratic Alliance Liberation Party for Change, Daniel Molisa, says the removal of the Principal Electoral Officer Lawson Samuel is an abuse of the Constitution and Prime Ministerial powers. He told VBTC News he thinks it breaks article 57 of the Constitution concerning public service. Daniel Molisa said Lawson Samuel should take his case to court.

Matters relating to the Phocea scandal are scheduled to be heard in the Magistrate’s Court at 2pm today. More news as it happens.

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Vanuatu Government “completely unstable and corrupt”, according to leaked US diplomatic cable

This particular Wikileaks Cablegate cable is of interest mostly for its humour value—”Volcanoes regularly go off and shark attacks are common”, it says about Vanuatu; one really has to wonder about quality control at the US State Department if this is the sort of stuff they are collecting as ‘intelligence’.

It’s an example of the sort of information-gathering from public sources that foreign diplomatic posts undertake routinely. In this case, this unclassified 2006 cable out of the US Embassy in Wellington, New Zealand, collates descriptions of Pacific Island countries, leaders and the political and economic climate as reported in New Zealand newspapers. The section about Vanuatu is extracted below; for the full descriptions of other Pacific island nations, visit this link at Wikileaks.

Key quote from the cable:

A bewildering array of political wannabes—the deeply suspicious Barak Sope, francophone Se[r]ge Vohor and Maxime Carlot Korm[a]n—swap among themselves as president and prime minister. With high unemployment, a growing squatter population around Port Vila is seen as a long-term security threat. Occasional riots and disturbances break out in Vila. GOVERNMENT: Completely unstable and corrupt.

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