Archive - April 2003

Fri
25
Apr
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COOK ISLANDS COPS ALARMED OVER BUDGET CUTS

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (RNZI, April 25) - The Cook Islands
Minister of Police has assured officers, angry over government plans to slash 10
percent of the police budget, that their wages will not be affected.

Tangata Vavia says the cutbacks will affect operational and
administrative costs but not personnel.

Earlier, the government asked all departments to cut their
operational costs by 10 percent.

In a letter to Vavia, the Police Association said the cuts would
reduce wages by 5 percent and that officers would resign over the matter.

The Association said that police have had not had any pay
increases since the Cooks’ public sector reforms in the 1990s.

It wrote that the government should slash the member of
parliament’s budget of $NZ2.3 million instead.

But Vavia says the cuts in the police budget are selective.

"The cuts will be taken from other areas other than
personnel.... that was...

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Fri
25
Apr
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GUAM FISHERMEN WANT ACCESS TO PRESERVES

HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, April 25) - Two years after
five marine preserves were established on Guam, the legislative committee that
oversees natural resources heard a presentation on the condition of the
preserves, and concerns from the fishing community on their specific
regulations.

The preserves were established to allow fish and other sea life
to repopulate in protected areas, which in turn will increase fish populations
outside the preserves. The five preserves are located at Piti Bomb Holes, Tumon
Bay, Pati Point, Sasa Bay in Apra Harbor and the Achang reef flat in Merizo.

Jay Gutierrez, a biologist for the Department of Agriculture's
Division of Aquatic and Wildlife Resources, presented data showing the number of
fish and fish diversity at two of the preserves have increased significantly.
The other three preserves were not discussed.

In one study, the Piti Bomb Holes Preserve saw the...

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Fri
25
Apr
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GROUP SAYS SPLIT PAPUA WOULD BENEFIT SUKARNOPUTRI

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (RNZI, April 25) - A spokesperson for
the International Crisis Group in Jakarta says Indonesia may split Papua
province into three despite widespread opposition, because it will benefit
Megawati Sukarnoputri in next year’s election.

Sidney Jones says there has been a definite escalation in
tension in the province.

Her comments came as dozens of Papuans protested in Jakarta over
a range of grievances, including the light sentences given the killers of the
pro-independence leader Theys Eluay.

Jones says a statement from the army chief of staff that the
killers were heroes has caused incredible anger among Papuans.

Jones says tensions are on the rise and the Government’s
commitment to splitting the province in three is not helping.

"They may even try to put it into force before the 2004
elections. If they do that it will create even greater tensions than already
exist...

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Fri
25
Apr
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AUSAID WINS PRIZE FOR INTERNATIONAL EFFORTS

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, April 25) - The
Australian Government's overseas aid agency, AusAID, has been recognized for
making a substantial contribution to international peace.

Friday, April 25th, is ANZAC Day in Australia, when the nation's
war dead are remembered in the context of the World War One landings at
Gallipoli by Australian and Zealand forces.

This year, AusAID has been awarded the Anzac Peace Prize by the
country's the Returned and Services League.

The Australian Foreign Affairs Minister, Alexander Downer has
congratulated AusAID.

He says Australia has a strong track record of responding to
conflict and promoting peace and stability through humanitarian and development
assistance.

Mr Downer also says the ANZAC Peace Prize is a reflection of the
professionalism and dedication of AusAid staff.

He says their work on behalf of all Australians each year
reaches...

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Fri
25
Apr
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MARSHALLESE YOUTHS ARRESTED IN OREGON BRAWL

MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Yokwe, April 24) - Police reportedly
arrested 10 people after a brawl in which a 14-year-old boy and his father were
attacked at a bus stop near McNary High School, Salem-Keizer, Oregon.

Seven of the 10 people arrested are Marshall Islanders, said
spokesman Sgt. Jeff Kuhns, who said that appears to be how they knew each other.
The brawl was the one of the largest in Keizer, drawing a crowd of 100, said
police.

According to Portland's KATU news the arrests included: L.
Gideon, L. Briand, J. Ruma, D. Langimeo, G. Popo, K. Jajo, J. Juda, M. Martinez,
P. Gonalzez, and L. Lopez.

The online news service has posted photos of those arrested.

Three were from McNary High School, two from North High, two
from South High, one from McKay High, and two did not attend school.

Although it was reported earlier that no weapons were involved,
the police have now charged Kanera Jajo, a...

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Fri
25
Apr
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U.S., MARSHALLS TO SIGN COMPACT NEXT WEEK

MAJURO, Marshall Islands (Marianas Variety, April 25) —
Amended provisions of a Compact of Free Association between the United States
and the Marshall Islands are to be signed here in Majuro late next week, ending
nearly four years of negotiations between the two nations.

The two-part deal is worth about $3.1 billion to the Marshall
Islands over the next 60 years, including $2.3 billion for extended use of the
missile testing range at Kwajalein Atoll and funding for a trust fund that will
take the place of direct American government aid in 20 years.

Kwajalein landowners, however, say that the Kwajalein missile
range extension agreement is seriously flawed and the funding it is offering is
far too low to meet basic needs of the increased population that lives largely
in substandard housing on overcrowded Ebeye Island, where about 10,000 islanders
live on fewer than 80 acres of land. They continue to demand...

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Fri
25
Apr
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FOUR NAMED AS CANDIDATES TO HEAD FORUM SECRETARIAT

SUVA, Fiji, (Pacnews, April 24) - Applications for the top
position of Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat have
closed this week.

Samoalive website reports that applications have been received
from Australia, Nauru, Samoa and Tonga.

Applications have been received by Fiji’s Foreign Affairs and
the names of candidates will be forwarded to Pacific Island leaders at their
annual summit in Auckland in August.

Samoa is supporting the application of the country's Minister
for Lands, Tuala Donald Kerslake. Tuala, a lawyer by profession was also former
Head of Samoa's Justice Department.

Australia's candidate is former Pacific diplomat, Greg Urwin. He
was Australia’s former High Commissioner to Fiji and also worked in Samoa.

Nauru's candidate is another former diplomat and cabinet
minister, Kinza Clodumar. Tonga’s choice is former cabinet minister and
respected regional...

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Thu
24
Apr
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QARASE DENIES MILITARY WARNING HE MIGHT HAVE TO RESIGN

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (RNZI, April 24) - Fiji’s prime
minister, Laisenia Qarase, has denied an overseas media report that the army
asked him to resign if the Supreme Court decision on the multi-party cabinet
case goes against the government.

The case, in which the government is appealing a Court of Appeal
ruling that the Fiji Labour Party be included in the cabinet, is due to be heard
in late June.

Qarase says the report, by the French news agency, AFP, is
baseless.

The report quoted a senior army officer as confirming that the
military asked Qarase to resign if the Supreme Court case went against him.

The military commander, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, is quoted
as saying that they are aware of the officer responsible for the report and he
would be taken to task.

Meanwhile, the military spokesman, Warrant Officer Neumi Leweni,
says reports are being put out by people wanting to...

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Thu
24
Apr
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SOLOMONS MURDER SUSPECTS ESCAPE PRISON

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (SIBC, April 23) - The leading suspect
in the murder of the late Sir Frederick Soaki escaped from police custody at the
Rove Prison Cell last night in a breakout with two other men.

Police told SIBC that the suspect, former police officer Edmund
Sae, is on the run with two other men who also fled from police custody. Sae has
been charged with murder in Auki’s killing earlier this year

SIBC understands that the suspect was scheduled to appear for a
Preliminary Inquiry before the Central Magistrates Court in Honiara on April 30.

SIBC also understands that two other murder suspects have been
brought over to Honiara from Auki. The unidentified suspects, also charged in
the killing, have made two appearances before the court. Their second appearance
was on April 17, when the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution revealed
that the Preliminary Inquiry documents of Sae have been...

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Thu
24
Apr
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FREE TRADE AGREEMENT WORRIES SAMOAN EXPORTERS

SUVA, Fiji (Pacnews) — Samoan exporters are wary that the
newly enforced regional trade agreement, Pacific Islands Free Trade Agreement,
might thrust them against the might of overseas competitors, Samoa Observer
reports.

The former president of the Samoa Association of Manufacturers
and Exporters, Eddie Wilson, says there has to be cooperation between government
and the country’s private sector if PICTA is viewed as workable,
"especially in enabling a level playing field for local exporters and
manufacturers to compete."

"The concept of free trade will only work if there is a
level playing field for all exporters," he said. "I ask that tax and
legislative reforms in other island countries, particularly Fiji are on par with
those that have been made here, in particular, several Fijian wholesalers have
set up shop in Samoa — the businessman asks if the proper legislation in Fiji
are in place that...

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