Vanuatu daily news digest | 24 May 2014

The Tanna election petition case no. 3 of 2012 was resolved yesterday morning and the seven successful Tanna candidates, including the country’s Prime Minister Natuman, confirmed in their election victory. The election case of Sabi Natonga and others was considered unproven and dismissed. Unauthorised envelopes did not constitute adequate grounds for the petition for Justice Fatiaki since there is no provision for dimensions or detailed particulars of official envelopes, anyway. The use of proxies was of significant concern however. The court also heard evidence as to voters who were born in and registered in Tanna moving to Vila where they were registered for Efate. However, double voting instances were clearly not proven. Justice Fatiaki said: "I have no hesitation in saying that allegations of ‘double voting’ by proxy applicants, although easily made, are extra-ordinarily difficult to prove. For the foregoing reasons this petition must be and is hereby dismissed as unproven." He expressed concern at the way the rolls are required to be maintained and urged tightening up of the rules regarding eligibility and registration. The judgment is reported in this morning’s Daily Post.

Five workers from the Vanuatu Utilities and Infrastructure Limited Company – VUI – at Santo were evacuated from the hydro-power site at Vanafo Thursday. This followed demands for compensation by land owners: claims which stand at VT 40 million. The land owners’ spokesman James Kampan says the hydro power will remain off until their demands are met. Meanwhile VUI is supplying Luganville from the more expensive town generators.

Also in Post this morning is the fraud case of Sergeant Apia of Epi, he who faces 166 counts of forgery related charges which were involved in the deception of selling forged motor vehicle documents. This is the matter which saw many public buses avoiding paying ‘road tax’ by dint of photocopied stickers in their windshields when the registration period was ending.

News from the recent sitting of Parliament and Prime Minister’s Question Time makes it clear that Etas, above the Teouma River, will be the site for the new correctional services facility, not Erangorango in the hills behind Bauerfield airport.

In the same sitting of Parliament it was also made clear that the land necessary for Norsup airport would be acquired by the Vanuatu Government. Lands Minister Regenvanu confirmed the governmental decision in the same parliamentary sitting along with consultations concerning seabed prospecting and mining.