Regional

Week of violence in Papuan regency culminates in pastor’s death

Several people have been killed in a series of deadly shootings in a Papuan regency in Indonesia this past week. The latest victim was a Papuan pastor at a Gospel Church in Intan Jaya, on...

PNG: Bougainville presidential count goes through 20th elimination

All the signs are that the Bougainville presidential preference eliminations will go down to the wire. Former Bougainville Revolutionary Army commander, Ishmael Toroama, continues to lead the count after the 20th elimination. But with just 43,600 votes, so far, he is still some way from achieving the required absolute majority of 63253. Father Simon Dumarinu,...

Pacific seeks changes to law of the sea

The Pacific Islands Forum is calling for changes to the law governing the region’s maritime boundaries. A Regional Conference on Securing the Limits of the Blue Pacific focussed on the legal options, institutional responses to the impact of sea-level rise on baselines and the context of international law. Delegates agreed the existing law did not...

French Polynesia’s Covid peak may not be until January – Govt

French Polynesia has recorded another 35 Covid-19 cases taking their total to 1353. Just under 1300 cases had been detected since August when borders were reopened to give the tourism industry a boost. Projections by the government suggest the peak of the latest wave won’t be reached until January, raising concern for the health system’s...

Solomon Islands police raise questions over fatal explosion

Following Sunday’s fatal explosion, police in Solomon Islands have raised concerns about unexploded Second World War bombs being taken into residential areas. On Sunday night two foreign workers affiliated to a Norwegian NGO were killed during an explosion at Tasahe in West Honiara. Police said the British and Australian nationals from the Norwegian People’s Aid...

Pacific women entrepreneurs suffer more under Covid-19: Trade Commissioner

The head of the Pacific Trade and Investment Commission says women-led businesses in the region are in urgent need of support amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Caleb Jarvis says despite most of the region being free of the virus, the economic impact of closed borders has been detrimental. Jarvis says this is evident in countries reliant...

Border closures delay return of Samoan peacekeepers

Covid-19 enforced border closures have delayed the return of Samoan Police Officers on United Nations Peacekeeping missions in Africa. Police commissioner Fuiavailili Egon Keil said Samoan personnel were stationed across the continent and had now had their postings extended. “Generally, the mission is for one year and it takes a lot of qualifications and testing...

PNG police introduce fairness monitoring for Goroka election

Papua New Guinea police are applying new measures to monitor the fairness of voting in the Goroka by-election. Polling began today for the long-delayed by-election triggered after a petition against incumbent MP Henry Ame’s (arm-eh) victory in the 2017 general election. Members of the police hierachy have convereged on Goroka for polling. As part of...

Tahiti to Rapa Nui air link to reopen in March

Air links between French Polynesia and South America are expected to be restarted at the end of March. The Chile-based carrier Latam says it plans to resume its flights from Rapa Nui to Tahiti on 29 March. Several people from Rapa Nui are still stranded in Tahiti. Tahiti closed its airport to commercial airlines in...

Fiji’s drownings are a warning to parents: Minister

A record number of drownings in Fiji has prompted calls for better supervision of children near water. 31 people have drowned this year – eight in just the last three weeks. 25 people had drowned by the same time last year. Education Minister Rosy Akbar placed responsibility on parents, calling for more adult supervision these...

Solomons marks diplomatic switch with opening of Chinese embassy

Solomon Islands has marked what the prime minister referred to as putting the country on the “right side of history”, with the official opening of China’s embassy in Honiara. A year ago Solomon Islands established diplomatic relations with China after previously recognising Taiwan for 36 years. Today a flag raising ceremony was held in front...

New Zealand to ease coronavirus restrictions in Auckland, rest of country

WELLINGTON (Reuters) – New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the coronavirus restrictions in its biggest city Auckland will be eased, while all restrictions will be lifted in the rest of the country. Auckland will move to alert level 2 from Thursday, Ardern said at a news conference on Monday, which will limit gatherings to...

Australia’s Victoria reports steady downward trend in COVID-19 cases

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia’s coronavirus hotspot of Victoria reported on Monday a steady downward trend in daily coronavirus cases, putting the state on course to ease more restrictions by next week. The two-week average rise in cases in Melbourne, the state capital, dropped below 35 on Monday, on track to meet a target of below...

21st September

US Marines don’t need to conduct destructive training in CNMI – court

The US Marines based in Guam do not need to stage live-fire war games in the neighbouring Northern Marianas, according to a new court ruling. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found the Marines could conduct “their required training” outside the CNMI and concluded that, while it may be more convenient for them to have...

Toroama extends lead in Bougainville presidency race

The former rebel militant commander Ishmael Toroama has extended his lead after the 18th elimination in the Bougainville presidential vote count. He has established a lead of over 13,000 votes over second-placed, former Papua New Guinea MP, Father Simon Dumarinu. In third place is former Bougainville chief secretary Thomas Raivet, while Peter Tsiamalili, who had...

Meeting of USP called to determine pro-chancellor’s fate

An urgent meeting of the University of the South Pacific council has been called to determine the fate of the pro-chancellor. According to Islands Business, Winston Thompson had been instructed to convene the meeting by the interim council chair, Nauru’s president, Lionel Aingimea. Aingimea told Thompson that the university’s supreme body would need to determine his fate and...

New Caledonia’s referendum campaign officially launched

The official campaign has today been opened for New Caledonia’s referendum on independence from France. Six political formations are officially authorised to campaign for the plebiscite on 4 October when 180,000 voters will be asked whether they want the territory to accede to full sovereignty. Three groups are for independence and three are for the...

Samoa resumes repatriation flights from New Zealand

More than 300 Samoans were repatriated from New Zealand yesterday, the tenth such flight since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic. TV1 Samoa reports most of the arrivals were returning seasonal workers who have completed their contracts in Aotearoa. Also on board were Samoans who have been stranded in New Zealand since March when the...

Marshall Islands auditor reports ongoing abuse of office

The past six months have seen over a dozen reports to the Marshall Islands Auditor General’s office of theft from and abuse of government offices. Last week the Auditor General Junior Patrick told the Nitijela, (or parliament), in his 73rd Semi-Annual Report that since the January report was issued, “a total of 13 new allegations...

New movement launched ahead of New Caledonia referendum

A new movement advocating sovereignty has been launched in New Caledonia – two weeks before a referendum on independence from France. Representatives of two minor parties held the founding Congress to create the Nationalist Movement for the Sovereignty of Kanaky, or MSNK. The new movement includes the MNIS party as well as the Labour Party,...

CNMI records highest number of Covid cases in single day

The Northern Marianas posted its highest single-day increase in Covid-19 cases over the weekend, with six positive results from coronavirus tests. On Saturday the six were identified by travel screening at the Saipan International Airport. All have been moved to a designated isolation area for close monitoring and contact tracing has begun, including for passengers...

More Covid-19 cases in French Polynesia with peak months away

French Polynesia’s health authorities say the number of Covid-19 cases has risen by another 47 for a second consecutive day to 1381, with the pandemic’s peak still months away. 1256 were detected since the beginning of August after the borders were opened and mandatory quarantine was abolished so that the tourism industry could receive a...

Toroama consolidating lead in Bougainville presidential race

After the 15th elimination in the Bougainville presidential vote count Ishmael Toroama has established a lead of 10,800 votes. In second place is the former Papua New Guinea MP and Minister for Bougainville Affairs, Father Simon Dumarinu. Third is former Bougainville Chief Secretary Thomas Raivet, while Peter Tsiamalili, who had been the head of the...

PNG records seventh Covid-19 death

Papua New Guinea has announced another death from Covid-19, bringing the country’s coronavirus death toll to seven. A 71-year old man from Central Province who lived in Moresby South was brought to the Port Moresby General Hospital on Friday, tested positive for Covid-19 and then died the same day. He had been suffering from a...

Police clash with protesters at anti-lockdown demonstration in London

LONDON (Reuters) – More than a thousand people gathered in central London on Saturday to protest against lockdown measures aimed at slowing the spread of the coronavirus, before the event was broken up by police. The protest, which led to 32 arrests, came as Prime Minister Boris Johnson is considering whether to reimpose some lockdown...

Two die in Solomon Islands bomb blast

Two people in Solomon Islands have died after suffering injuries from a bomb blast in Honiara. Police said the two, an Australian and a British citizen, were working for a Norwegian aid agency conducting a survey on unexploded ordnance. The agency has named them as Trent Lee and Stephen Atkinson. Inspector Clifford Tunuki said police...

Envelope with deadly poison ricin addressed to White House intercepted

WASHINGTON/OTTAWA (Reuters) – An envelope addressed to the White House and intercepted by U.S. authorities contained a substance identified as ricin, a deadly poison that appeared to have been sent from Canada, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said on Saturday. An RCMP spokesman confirmed “it has received a request for assistance from the FBI...

Australia heads for lowest virus count in three months

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia looked set to record its lowest daily increase in new coronavirus cases in three months on Sunday as a hard lockdown in the city of Melbourne brought the country’s virus epicenter down sharply. The second-most populous state Victoria, of which Melbourne is the capital, reported 14 new infections in the 24...

Latin American nations plan to join COVAX vaccine facility after deadline

BRASILIA (Reuters) – Brazil and Argentina, Latin American nations seeking more time to commit to the global COVID-19 vaccine facility known as COVAX, said they intend to so as soon as possible after missing Friday’s deadline. Peru’s foreign ministry said on Saturday it managed to sign the binding agreement on Friday and will get access...

Biggest Thai protest in years cheers calls to reform monarchy

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Tens of thousands of people joined Thailand’s biggest protest in years on Saturday, cheering calls to curb the powers of King Maha Vajiralongkorn’s monarchy and for the removal of former coup leader Prayuth Chan-ocha as prime minister. “Unless the monarchy is under the constitution, we will never achieve true democracy,” protest leader...

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