The party led by Edouard Fritch is on track for a large majority in the 57-member assembly if it can repeat this result in the second round in two weeks. The party coming first will get 19 seats as a bonus after which the 38 remaining seats are shared in proportion to the parties’ strength. In yesterday’s election, the Tahoeraa Huiraatira party of Gaston Flosse won 29 per-cent and the pro-independence Tavini Huiraatira party of Oscar Temaru won 20 percent. The other three par-ties standing this year failed to win at least 12.5 percent of the vote and have been eliminated. Turnout was 61 percent.
SHOPS LOOTED OVER MISUSE OF CULTURE
BOUGAINVILLE – Hundreds of people in Papua New Guinea’s Bougainville looted goods from two shops owned by Asians in the capital Buka on Friday. Loop PNG reported the looting was in protest at the sale of goods that bore images of the ‘Upe’, which is revered in the Wakunai region of Bougainville. The Upe headress was worn by young men when they are initiated into adulthood, the website said. Women were not allowed to wear Upe yet its image had been printed on clothing, including underwear, it said. One of the stores was reportedly stripped of its produce and its windows were smashed. Loop PNG said it un-derstood Bougainville president John Momis convened an emergency session of parliament to address the matter.
$300,000 MISSING FROM HEALTH FUND
VANUATU – Vanuatu’s Public Accounts Committee is investigating the disappearance of nearly US$300,000 that was intended for the health sector. The funds were provided by the Global Fund to the Vanuatu government to combat tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS and malaria. A former Pacific Community em-ployee, Philip Tasale, said a review found discrepancies in reports done by government employees, particu-larly in the malaria programme. His team went to Santo in 2014 to interview creditors and found that some receipts were false and the government had been defrauded, Tasale said. The Daily Post reported that health ministry officials were expected to appear before the committee soon.
VOYAGEURS CONSIDER OCEAN’S FUTURE
HAWAI‘I – For the first time 25 traditional Polynesian voyaging leaders have gathered to discuss how they can work towards creating a better environmental balance. The Ho’okele Honua Summit was held at Hono-lulu’s Bishop Museum over the weekend. The Polynesian Voyaging Society’s Nainoa Thompson warned the meeting that if they did not act or change, the world on its current pathway would take them to the island of extinction. A navigator from the Cook Islands, Tua Pittman, said the meeting was the beginning of a new era. “In all of our cultures, the canoe is a movement of people. It moves people from place to place. “That canoe will always be there. We are jumping on a different canoe now. The canoe is a movement and this is what’s being formed right now. We are now building the hull of the new canoe, the spiritual canoe,” Pittman said.