Sep 22, 2017 Last Updated 11:49 PM, Sep 19, 2017

Brother Kanaky

MSG seals deal with Independence group ahead of referendum

THE Melanesian Spearhead Group will take a lead role in a political referendum in New Caledonia next year. MSG Director General, Ambassador Amenatave Yauvoli, has signed a memorandum of understanding with the Front de Libération Nationale Kanak et Socialiste (FLNKS) setting out details of cooperation.

“The FLNKS has asked us to provide technical assistance to them ahead of the referenfum’” Yauvoli said after the Pacific Community meeting in Noumea. “This will deal mainly with the strengthening of capacities within the FLNKS with regard to the administration and organisation of key institutions such as parliament, the judiciary, foreign affairs and defence.” The FLNKS is one of the leading proponents for greater autonomy from France for the people of New Caledonia.

The referendum will decide whether New Caledonia should have greater autonomy within the French Republic. Yauvoli said MSG member countries were willing to help the FLNKS and other New Caledonian political parties to strengthen their capabilities by providing technical assistance.

“The FLNKS has identified lack of capacity within the organisation and the Kanaky community with regards to administration of specific parts of the government,” Yauvoli said.

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THE Attorney General and Minister for the Economy Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum is probably the most influential Minister this country has ever had. His influence is everywhere, in the Decrees, the Constitution, the Electoral system, economic policies the news media and even foreign policies of this country.

He has been in a position of unusual power and influence since 2007 when he became the Attorney General and Minister for Justice under the first Cabinet of Commodore Bainimarama. That was after the removal through a bloodless Coup of the elected government led by Laisenia Qarase on December 4, 2006.

Will Khaiyum’s influence on the direction and evolution of Fiji as a state, a political and economic system and a nation of diverse people, be of lasting significance? This is a question that should be evaluated and answered after he is no longer in power, by those who are better qualified and can take a more objective and balanced assessment.

This column is only a narrow impressionistic commentary on some of his initiatives and impacts, particularly on development towards the 2013 Constitution. Parliament and the electoral laws. I generally raise the question: What had motivated him and will his actions be of lasting value to the country?

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PAPUA New Guinea’s Prime Minister Peter O’Neill recorded history by being elected into office for a second year term on July 2. He defeated a determined coalition of parties known as ‘The Alliance’ in a vote 60 to 46 but the real challenges are those that lie ahead for the re-elected Prime Minister. The returning Prime Minister will have many questions to answer for the general conduct of this year’s elections, the ninth in PNG’s short history.

The election has been marred by violence, numerous allegations of malfeasance, an attempted kidnapping, and comical court proceedings. A common feature across the country was the poor state of the electoral roll. Thousands of Papua New Guineans, many of whom voted in 2012, were disenfranchised, ineligible to vote because their names did not appear on the updated list. Independent observers have called the state of the electoral roll ‘alarming’, and it is the largest single issue that threatens the legitimacy of the election.

The Commonwealth Observer Group highlighted in its preliminary report that a key issue and challenge to the election has been the significant number of eligible voters whose names were not on the common roll. The Group was very disappointed to note that previous COG reports that highlighted the need to address this issue, have yet to be implemented.

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A question of identity

Implications of the draft Rotuma Bills

OPPOSITION to the draft Rotuma Bills was not to detract the question of unity but it was a matter of identity, explained the adviser to the Council of Rotuma, Dr John Fatiaki in an interview with Islands Business. The Rotuma Bills, respectively the lands act and the Rotuma Act have been a much heated subject in the country, given the friction between the people of Rotuma – who are not in support of the draft legislation, and the government of the day.

Fatiaki says that the definition of Rotuma reduces rotumans to what they used to own - area wise. Hence, areas to do with the governance of the island was one of the major tipping point for Rotumans. “Now we have been under the government of Fiji but the lands act and the rotuma act have been unique,” said Fatiaki.

“The lands is a legislation that govern the island and define transactions in relation to land, it defines the perimeters of the island. And that has been in place for 45 and 89 years respectively,” he said. Quick Background

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Call to end Fiji black list

A FIJIAN opposition party has called for the lifting of travel bans on all individuals – including former Fiji citizens.National Federation Party President, Roko Tupou Draunidalo, said Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama, needed to follow through his recent rhetoric with action.“Last weekend the PM announced in Australia that any journalist would be free to visit the country and report without restriction once they have been accredited by the Department of Information,” Draunidalo said.

“This also referred to three prominent journalists from New Zealand and Australia who were banned from entering Fiji.”Draunidalo said Bainimarama had urged Fijians in Australia to take advantage of the dual citizenship that Fiji now offers, return home and build houses or start businesses. 

“However all this will remain just tokenism unless bans against those who have served Fiji loyally in their capacity as expatriates as well as former Fiji citizens remain in place.” Draunidalo said the Immigration Department black list that prevented former and current citizens from returning to Fiji, the land of their birth, must be removed.

“The name of academics Professor Brij Lal and his wife, Dr Padma Lal, as well as other individuals who have been placed on this list for frivolous, undemocratic reasons, must be removed if the Prime Minister really wants to show the world that Fiji is a robust democracy.”“Inviting Fijians to return home for simply financial and economic reasons, is not being global at all. They have their families, friends, cultural roots and identity here in Fiji and have the best foundation to contribute to Fiji’s social and economic progress. “

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