Archive - April 2003

Wed
30
Apr
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NEW CALEDONIA VOTES DOWN AIRLINE FARE INCREASE

SUVA, Fiji (Oceania Flash, April 29) - A special meeting of New
Caledonia's Congress on Monday resolved to oppose any proposed increase in the
government-owned domestic airline - Air Calédonie's - ticket prices, RFO's
Tél-Nouvelle-Calédonie reports.

The Congress recommended that for the time being, a committee be
formed to look into ways of implementing a possible price increase.

Air Calédonie (AirCal) announced earlier this month that it
would increase the price of domestic transport in a bid to generate further
revenue and save the company from bankruptcy. But the move triggered angry
reactions from local users, who formed into committees.

The domestic airport of Maré in the Loyalty Islands group, has
been blockaded for the past ten days and flights have been unable to operate.

At its Monday meeting, which took place behind closed doors, the
Congress also gave the nod for AirCal to go ahead with its...

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Wed
30
Apr
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SOLOMONS MINISTER URGES POLICE WITHDRAWAL IN KEKE HUNT

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (RNZI April 30) - A Solomon Islands
member of parliament has called for the immediate withdrawal of a police team
hunting rebel leader Harold Keke on the Weather Coast of Guadalcanal.

The call follows the killing yesterday of two special constables
pursuing Keke, said to have spread terror in the isolated Weathercoast region of
Southern Guadalcanal since forming the Guadalcanal Liberation Front four years
ago.

He is reported to have killed nearly 50 people, eight of them
police officers in pursuit of the renegade.

There is an increased police presence on the Weather Coast after
unconfirmed reports that Keke and his supporters had killed 21 people in the
past month.

But Y Sato says sending more police will only provoke Keke and
says the Government must take a different approach.

"Firstly immediately stop the operation hunting him,"
Y Sato said. "Secondly, the...

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Wed
30
Apr
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VANUATU CHIEF FACES CHARGES AFTER EVICTION

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (RNZI April 29) - The Paramount Chief of
Ifira Island near Port Vila in Vanuatu may be summoned to court to explain why
he allegedly forcibly evicted a man who was married to a local woman.

Chief Mantoi Kalsakau is said to have authorized his council to
bind the hands of Taura Thomas, who was then driven to a plane, which flew him
back to his home island of Tanna.

Thomas returned to Port Vila after his lawyer lodged a claim of
unlawful arrest and associated damages.

The lawyer says Mr. Thomas can prove that he and his wife have a
right to live on Ifira after his wife’s father gave them land.

The incident is before the newly introduced lands tribunal,
which is dealing with disputes over the right to land acquired through marriage.

April 30, 2003

Radio New Zealand International: http://www.rnzi.com/ 

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Wed
30
Apr
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VANUATU COMMITS TO SOUTH PACIFIC GAMES

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (SIBC, April 29) - Vanuatu will be
sending its contingent to the South Pacific Games despite concerns raised by
other Pacific island countries such as Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands
about the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS.

The president of Vanuatu Olympic Committee, Joe Carlo,
re-affirmed the commitment in Honiara today following concerns raised by PNG and
Solomon Islands.

Carlo is accompanying, Kevin Gosper the Vice President of the
International Olympic Committee on a two-day visit to Solomon Islands.

Carlo said, precautionary measures taken at all entry points in
Fiji, Vanuatu, Australia, Papua New Guinea are necessary and hope SARS will be
contained.

Solomon Islands National Olympic Committee was to have met today
to make a decision whether or not to send a team to Fiji or call for a
deferment.

In other developments, Gosper, after arrival...

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Wed
30
Apr
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NATIVE MARIANAS GROUP WANT CASINO GAMBLING

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, April 30) - An initiative to allow
casino gaming on Saipan to help revitalize the economy has been proposed by the
Saipan Mayor's Office and the CNMI Indigenous Entrepreneurs Inc., a group of
local citizens that aims to strengthen business opportunities for local people.

A key feature of the plan is to restrict the ownership and
control of the casino solely to people of Northern Marianas descent, as defined
by the CNMI Constitution. This restriction is similar to the legal precedent set
by Native Americans who control their own local casino industry in the U.S.
mainland.

Any person of Northern Marianas descent, who is 18 years old or
older, may own up to 5 percent of common shares of the proposed Northern
Marianas Descent Investment Corp., which will be established as the only casino
license holder on Saipan.

Under the proposed Act, a five-member Saipan casino commission...

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Wed
30
Apr
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FIJI PROPOSAL: NO WEAPONS ALLOWED IN COUPS

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (RNZI April 30) - A bill has gone before
the Fiji parliament which makes it a criminal offence to use weapons in the
overthrow of an elected government.

The bill also seeks to criminalize the possession of military
type automatic and semi-automatic weapons.

The measure was introduced by the Minister For Home Affairs,
Joketani Cokanasiga, who said current laws are archaic and need upgrading.

Cokanasiga said present laws do not adequately address matters
related to internal security and the use of weapons in violent robberies and
disputes.

He also said the laws do not deal with the illegal import of
arms and ammunition, especially military type weapons, and their use in the
overthrow of governments.

Meanwhile, Radio FM-96 reports that police have begun collecting
witness statements regarding Vice-President Ratu Jope Seniloli assuming the
presidency as a usurper after...

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Wed
30
Apr
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QUALITY INN OPENS $7 MILLION HOTEL IN SAMOA

APIA, Samoa (Samoa News, April 26) - The newly constructed
Quality Inn Tradewinds Hotel in Ottoville has opened its doors ahead of schedule
and officially welcomed guests.

Leanne Kingi and Barbara Tane of Hamilton, New Zealand were
pleasantly surprised when the hotel's General Manager, Klaus P. Russo personally
greeted them inside the main lobby.

Beautiful and sweet-smelling leis were put around their necks
and both were presented with Samoan crafted gift packages.

The 104-room, three-story hotel, which is owned and developed by
Ottoville Investment One (OIO) Inc., a local company owned by the Otto Haleck
Family, was scheduled to be opened next month.

However, due to repeated requests by the organizers of the
"Pasefika Conference on Disability" which begins today at ASCC, OIO
Inc., relented and agreed to take in the participants of the conference from
overseas countries that include New Zealand...

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Wed
30
Apr
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PACIFIC MEDIA GROUPS CONDEMN TONGAN PRESS CENSORSHIP

SYDNEY, Australia (ABC Online, April 29) – Tonga’s banning
of the Times of Tonga newspaper has attracted condemnation from the
Press Councils of Australia and New Zealand, the Media Council of Fiji and the
Commonwealth Press Union (CPU).

In a joint statement released in Sydney, Wellington and Suva,
the media councils and the CPU say they have observed with growing apprehension
the reaction of the Tongan Government to the issues of free speech and the
rights of a free press.

The statement says the actions of the Tonga Privy Council have
been so hostile to the accepted standards governing free speech and the press in
the Pacific that the groups have, for the first time, united in a single voice
to condemn it.

It also says that to attempt to deal with opposition views by
way of censorship and legal prohibitions is wrong in principle.

Opposition, they contend, has a right to exist and be heard in...

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Wed
30
Apr
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CNMI, U.S. SQUARE OFF ON CLAIMS TO SUBMERGED LAND

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, April 29) – Amid heightened use
of the Northern Marianas by the U.S. military, the Commonwealth is opposing the
federal government's claim to approximately 264,000 square miles of submerged
lands in the islands, in a lawsuit pending at the U.S. District Court.

Through Assistant Attorney General Joseph L.G. Taijeron Jr., the
CNMI government is asserting its title over submerged lands, which the U.S.
claims to be incidental to its sovereignty over the Commonwealth when the Trust
Territory Period ended.

"Pursuant to the Covenant, the submerged lands of the
Northern Marianas are the property of the people. They were never given away or
implicitly conveyed. Instead, the people, via the CNMI, retained these lands
through the Covenant," Taijeron said.

He said that, when the Trusteeship ended, the Trust Territory
government ceded its interest over the lands to the NMI government...

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Wed
30
Apr
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VANUATU OPPOSITION AIMS TO TOPPLE GOVERNMENT

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (RNZI April 29) - Vanuatu’s opposition
National United Party has rejected a proposal to merge with the governing
Vanuaaku Pati, and instead is aiming to topple the government in a motion of no
confidence.

Last week Prime Minister Edward Natapei expressed hope that the
NUP could be brought into an enlarged governing coalition.

But NUP leader Willie Jimmy now says his party has the support
of some government back benchers and has appealed for others to join him.

Jimmy says the present Government does not deliver.

Meanwhile, Maxime Carlot Korman, the leader of another
opposition party, the Republicans, says a new coalition would lift the minimum
wage, and drop the controversial debit tax.

However Serge Vohor, the Deputy Prime Minister, and leader of
the second party in the current coalition, the Union of Moderate Parties, says
none of their members of parliament have...

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