Natapei retains control of Vanua’aku Pati; workers call for increased wages

Today’s bulletin is late because the midday news on Radio Vanuatu was essential for the lead story in this bulletin for today. Daily Post had a stop press, but Vanuatu Times could only wonder at what the result might be….

Edward Nipake Natapei retains control of the Vanua’aku Pati. The judgement was handed down yesterday by the Supreme Court. The Chief Justice said that the executive of the party elected on Ifira and headed by Natapei had the power to conduct and organise the Tongoa Congress of the party. Even though the term of the executive had just expired, still Natapei’s executive remained intact.

A similar case has involved UMP and UMPC. UMPC has been given until Monday at 1 o’clock to take a new name to Court or make a change to their party name.

Three thousand employees calling for a wage increase leads Daily Post reporting today. The story is a follow-up after the planned June strike action was called off because of the international meeting here. Workers in the private sector are complaining that Vt 147 an hour can no longer begin to cover the cost of living. “The MPs and the politicians must understand that we do have land to go back to but there are difficulties with marketing produce in Port Vila and Santo.” This comes about “because of the high cost of land and sea transport,” spokesman Philemon Hango said.

The minister for public works and shipping has issued an order preventing cargo ship owners from using the NISCOL wharf at Luganville until all deficiencies at the site are corrected. Minister Harry Iauko was reported saying that his move follows the efforts of the former chairman of the NISCOL stevedoring company  to remove all the company’s machinery from the wharf. “Because under the law there are standards to be met, I am requiring all this equipment be returned,” said Minister Iauko Harry to Radio News, “before operations can resume.” Former CEO of NISCOL, Kalfau Moli, blames government for the crisis, Post says, because presently NISCOL is run by “renegade political supporters of Minister George Wells.”

Minister Iauko Harry has also opened the first fuel depot at Lenakel on Tanna, reports Radio Vanuatu.

Fast internet should be available by September next year, says Simon Fletcher of the Interchange cable network. Speaking to Vanuatu Times, Fletcher says it will be a “quantum leap” for Vanuatu in terms of technical ability to meet the needs of the ICT sector.” This is the 1,200 km seabed fibre optic cable between Port Vila and Suva.

Dick Eade’s killer gets 15 years reports There is no mention of any legal representation or case made on behalf of Tenake.

The Independent has much to say in favour of the project involving mangrove destruction on Moso. A spokesman for the bulldozing on the unleased or illegally leased property (as the minister has no mandate to lease this land) has now emerged. Kal Kalsev says the work, being undertaken by Goodies, is only to clear land for plots and that his “community will benefit as a whole”.

Former National Council of Chiefs President Alguet has written to the prime minister against the Mama Graon project. President Alguet says he sees the project as one which will enable the theft of custom land. It is a 4-page letter which is said to find many points of issue with Mama Graon. One is that Article 74 of the Constitution says that custom rules form the basis of use and ownership of land in this country. Alguet questions how an international company can decide Mama Graon issues when the Malvatumauri is not aware of that company. If the immediate past President of the Malvatumauri is not aware of how Mama Graon is working on custom land matters, when the Council is represented in the Lands Ministry or Department, the Council immediately has a communications problem on its hands. Everyone should remember that land matters are decided in the nasara. Small groups of skilled officials may have many good ideas under their programmes, but these must still be discussed in the nasara, such as on Moso.

The Nagriamel political commission’ says the national sovereignty is under threat today. A letter in the matter has been addressed to Prime Minister Kilman this week, Radio News reports. Once again Nagriamel drew attention to allegedly overseas based networks such as Mama Graon being involved in policy making in local issues and ‘taking Vanuatu back to colonisation’. A press conference was organised after Nagriamel’s previous claim against Mama Graon but Nagriamel did not turn up. One wonders whether this is again a communications problem in Lands, Mama Graon or the Malvatumauri – or Nagriamel.

Port Vila has a new mayor, Reuben Olul of the People’s Progressive Party. He won the election with ten votes (almost all of which come from different parties, whatever that might mean) against four of Noel Lango (ditto?). Sumtoh Ulrich was elected deputy. The new mayor said he would work hard to ‘pemaot’ every title belonging to the municipality, from the past until today. He also wants to restore service to Port Vila.

The WTO Bill has been gazetted and Daily Post gives a long account of the legal process in reaching that stage. Daily Post also shows that the Protocol and Act to establish the treaty between Vanuatu and the WTO’s Protocol expired long before the President signed, as the Protocol itself stipulates. Section 7 required it to be signed by 31 December last year and it wasn’t.