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NEW VANUATU GOVERNMENT LAND AND HOUSE SALE REPORT

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (March 4, 1998 - PACNEWS)---The Vanuatu Ombudsman's Office has released a public report on the 1993 sale of 71 government houses and land.

The latest disclosure is a follow-up to the Vanuatu National Provident Fund Housing Loan Report of December 17, 1997, which led to riots in Port Vila by about 500 fund members.

The latest report states that the Council of Ministers' decision regarding house sales, agreed to by former Prime Minister Maxime Carlot Korman, was illegal and discriminatory.

Ombudsman Marie-Noelle Ferrieux-Patterson says this was because the ministers accepted a priority list of those who should benefit from the sales --including themselves and their political allies.

The report states that Vanuatu National Provident Fund (VNPF) loans were obtained to purchase government properties at grossly undervalued prices, and as a result the people of Vanuatu lost between 85 million vatu ($US 700,000) and 152 million vatu ($US 1.23...

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OVER 100,000 ELIGIBLE TO VOTE IN NEW CALEDONIA REFERENDUM

NOUMEA, New Caledonia (March 4, 1998 - Radio Australia)---More than 100,000 New Caledonians will be eligible to vote in a referendum later this year to determine the French Pacific territory's future political status.

However, more than 8,800 additional persons, representing nearly eight percent of the total electorate, are not able to take part in the referendum.

The President of the electoral list commission, Francois Cachelot, says this is because they are unable to prove 10 years of continuous residency in New Caledonia since 1988, one of the conditions for the referendum.

They can, however, take part in all other elections.

This year's planned referendum on self-determination is one of the provisions of the 1988 Matignon Accords between Paris, separatists and the anti-independence movement.

The Accords established a 10-year period during which social and economic stability was to be established before New Caledonians decided on their...

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Wed
04
Mar
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TONGA CONFIRMS FIRST 1998 CASE OF DENGUE FEVER

NUKU'ALOFA, Tonga (March 2, 1998 - PACNEWS/Tohi)---Tonga has recorded its first 1998 case of dengue fever.

The Ministry of Health has confirmed that a 15-year old boy from Tofoa on Tongatapu Island has contracted the mosquito-borne disease, Radio Tonga reports.

Health officials have begun broadcasting radio messages, providing information about ways to help contain spread of the virus.

Dr. Taniela Lutui, acting head of Tonga's public health division, has urged the public to join a nationwide campaign to destroy mosquito breeding places, such as water-filled coconut shells, cans, tires and other containers.

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Wed
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SEARCH FOR WAR TREASURE CONTINUES IN SOLOMON ISLANDS

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (March 2, 1998 - PACNEWS/Ioane)---A three-year-long Solomon Islands effort to find a multi-billion-dollar Japanese treasure trove on Tulagi in Central Province still has come up with nothing.

Provincial secretary Lennis Rukale says the Minister of Home Affairs, Reverend Leslie Boseto, recently renewed the digging license, allowing a private group to continue the search but adding stipulations.

While the provincial government does not oppose the excavation project, he said, it wanted to have a proper agreement in place regarding sharing any find and to assure that the excavation area is properly restored when the digging stops.

The private group is continuing the dig on a hillside above Tulagi, the former Solomon Islands capital, for money and other valuables believed to have been hidden by Japanese forces during World War II.

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HIV/AIDS CASES ON THE RISE IN KIRIBATI

TARAWA, Kiribati (March 2, 1998 - PACNEWS/Ioane)---The Kiribati government is concerned about the increasing number of HIV/AIDS cases in the country, with reports that the number of people infected with the disease may now be more than 20, Radio Kiribati reports.

Secretary for Health and Family Planning, Dr. Takeieta Kienene, says the government has approved a three-pronged master plan to prevent further spread of the disease. It includes a massive awareness program targeting the young, free condoms to be available at public and private bars, night clubs and other recreational centers, and continuing blood tests for those donating blood and having medical check ups.

So far, four AIDS patients in Kiribati have died.

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Wed
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SOLOMON ISLANDS GOVERNMENT DEBT OVER $US 216 MILLION

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (March 2, 1998 - PACNEWS/Ioane)---Solomon Islands Minister of Finance Mannaseh Sogavare has confirmed that government debt is now well over $SI 1 billion ($US 216 million).

Sogavare announced the debt total during a recent visit to Choiseul province, noting that public sector debt is approximately $SI 850 million ($US 184 million).

He said the government owes the Central Bank of Solomon Islands alone some $SI 75 million ($US 16 million), which is mostly in bonds and treasury bills.

The public sector debt, Sogavare said, excludes that owed to the private sector and overseas.

Government officials are working closely with the Central Bank to repay all debts, he added.

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PNG GOVERNMENT MOVES TO CHANGE THE STRUCTURE

OF POWER, OPPOSITION OBJECTS

By Oseah Philemon

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (March 2, 1998-Niuswire/Post-Courier) ---The Papua New Guinea government is proposing major changes to the national Constitution which would make it tougher for the Opposition to move motions of no confidence in the Prime Minister, the Post-Courier reports.

The changes would also abolish the National Executive Council and place the executive powers of government in a six-man "Government Caucus Committee.''

A successful motion "to discharge the Government Caucus Committee'' would force a general election.

The proposed Constitutional Amendment on the election of the Prime Minister has been circulated to Members of Parliament and is expected to be tabled during the sitting of the House which begins tomorrow.

It proposes that Section 142 of the Constitution dealing with the Prime Minister would be repealed and replaced with a new section.

The proposed new...

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Wed
04
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AMERICAN SAMOA HOUSE COMMITTEE PASSES

"SAMOA NAME" BILL

PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (March 2, 1998 - Samoa News)---The "Samoa name" bill will go to the floor of the American Samoa House of Representatives.

The Government Operations Committee bill prevents American Samoa from recognizing the name "Samoa" when referring to the neighboring independent state formally called Western Samoa.

Only four members of the committee turned out Monday for a 15-minute meeting on the controversial measure.

The committee agreed to endorse the legislation and allow lawmakers to debate the bill in the full House, where it must be passed on both second and third readings before being sent to the Senate.

Committee Chairman Faleatafa Tulafono Solaita, Jr. noted that not all committee members attended yesterday's hearing, "but we have to proceed with reviewing this legislation and the majority rules. We will not delay anymore."

Besides Solaita, other faipules present were Su'a Carl Schuster, the bill's...

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Wed
04
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TONGA'S ROYAL FAMILY BATTLING FOR CONTROL OF

SATELLITE FORTUNES

By Michael J. Field

NUKU'ALOFA, Tonga (March 3, 1998 - Agence France-Presse)---Tonga's top prince and princess are fighting each other in a battle to control the kingdom's lucrative satellite business, the weekly Times of Tonga newspaper reported Tuesday.

At odds is Crown Prince Tupouto'a who is trying to sink government-granted exclusive rights to a company headed by his sister, Princess Pilolevu Tuita, who, according to Forbes magazine, has made a personal 25 million U.S. dollars out of the business.

The Times said King Taufa'ahau Tupou IV was caught between the two while government officials were trying to keep the row from the public.

Pilolevu holds 60 percent of the shares and is chair of Tongasat.

The company was formed after Tonga startled the international satellite market by claiming seven key equatorial satellite slots. Although it does not need the slots itself it has, in partnership with other companies, used...

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04
Mar
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JOURNALISM IN DISARRAY AT USP-FIJI

SUVA, Fiji (March 1, 1998 - Niuswire/Sunday Times)---The University of the South Pacific prides itself on its unified, regional status and often shies away from outside politics.

Yet often, as in recent weeks, its normal academic functions have been disrupted by influences outside the campus.

The delay in the issuing of work permits to Ingrid Leary and David Robie, the two expatriate New Zealanders offered lecturing positions at the USP journalism department , has kept the fraternity in a state of uncertainty.

The two were appointed at the end of last year for the USP journalism studies unit - Robie as course coordinator and Leary to take up a lecturer position.

Both are still awaiting the Fiji Immigration Department's verdict, which might even cripple the newly formed department, just into the first semester and trying to gather momentum.

The Ministry for Home Affairs has reportedly agreed to grant the two expatriates work permits but...

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