VANUATU – Two of Vanuatu’s three MPs from Ambae have called on the government to declare disaster zones around their island’s volcanic activity. The call came after the governmen sent an official assessment team to Ambae to report on the damage that had been caused by the constant ashfall from Manaro Volcano. The south and west of Ambae have been particularly affected by the volcanic eruptions. MPs Alickson Vira and Jay Ngwele said the constant ashfall has threatened the survival of 3,000 people in the south and 6000 people in the west of the island, as well as their animals. Nearly all food gardens have already been destroyed and homes have collapsed due to the weight of ash on roofs – while animals are affected as the grass on which they feed is covered with ash.
DISSIDENTS FORM NEW POLITICAL GROUP
FRENCH POLYNESIA – Dissidents of French Polynesia’s pro-independence party say their movement to contest the election is called A Ti’a Mai. The new movement’s leaders Heia Parau and Vetea Heller plan to present an alternative list of candidates at next month’s territorial election, saying no current political figure will be included. The movement was formed after a recent general strike to keep the retirement age of 60. The two leaders have restated that they are tired of the current system of “politicians in their ivory towers, who on arrival in office forget why they were elected”. The party says integrity is their main condition to be allowed to stand. Another group, E Reo Manahune, has presented its list of 73 candidates who don’t have criminal convictions. The main anti-independence parties are led by people with corruption convictions.
CLAMP DOWN ON ILLEGAL PRESCRIPTIONS
BOUGAINVILLE – The government in the autonomous Papua New Guinea region of Bougainville is trying to clamp down on a resurgence in businesses illegally selling prescription drugs. PNG has been experiencing a prescription drug shortage for the past year but the Bougainville Health Secretary Clement Totavun said there had been a surge in Chinese-owned businesses illegally selling drugs, such as antibiotics. He said on Bougainville there was just one authorised pharmacy that could sell prescription drugs and the government has had to clamp down in the past on illegal sellers, but in recent months there had been a resurgence in the trade.