AMERICAN SAMOA – Four fishermen who spent hours clinging to their capsized boat off the coast of American Samoa have been rescued. Large swells overturned the 10-metre fishing vessel at three o’clock on Wednesday morning. At daybreak, one of the men swam under the boat and retrieved the locator beacon and set it off. Rescue Co-ordination Centre New Zealand says it received the alert at seven o’clock in the morning and the group was found in 45 minutes. An officer for American Samoa’s Marine Patrol Unit, Tapu Ranger Maiava, said when his crew arrived, the crew were clinging onto the hull of the upturned vessel, which was rapidly sinking. He said all four were thirsty and cold, but are otherwise in good health and had been returned safely to Pago Pago.
VILLAGE ROAD BLOCKERS APPREHENDED
SAMOA – Three more youths from the Samoan village of Luatuanu’u face possible criminal charges over a road block in the village last week. The youths were taken to police on Monday after a council meeting to discuss last Thursday’s roadblock – the second in the village. During the latest roadblock a toilet bowl was put in the middle of the road with sand bags lining each side. The trio joins eight suspects who were arrested and charged as a result of another road block in March. A police warning for motorists to be on alert when travelling to Luatuanu’u at night has been lifted. Village council spokesman Auapa’au Logoitino Filipo said the council and the police had ironed out differences and everything was getting back to normal.
ANOTHER GUAM PRIEST ACCUSED OF ABUSE
GUAM – Yet another catholic priest has been accused of child sex abuse on Guam. Father Daniel Cristobal, who is now dead, has been accused of repeatedly molesting a boy over a two-year period in the late 1970s. It is the first time Father Cristobal has been named in a lawsuit, although several other priests, including Guam’s former archbishop Anthony Apuron, have been accused of child sex abuse from the 1940s to the 1990s. Apuron plans to appeal against that ruling. The Archdiocese of Agana is now the defendant in more than 160 lawsuits amounting to more than half a billion US dollars, although negotiations are underway to reach an out-of-court settlement.
Concern over Macron visit
NEW CALEDONIA – The pro-independence Caledonian Union has called for a broad meeting to ensure next week’s visit to Ouvea by the French President Emmanuel Macron will be smooth.
Macron is due to visit the tomb of the 19 Kanaks shot dead by French security forces ending the 1988 Ouvea hostage crisis.
In view of objections by some Ouvea locals, the Caledonian Union has invited the French state, the provincial government and customary leaders for discussions to ensure the visit will go ahead peacefully.
This comes as talks are reportedly being held between the authorities in Paris and Noumea to defuse the situation after one group in Ouvea labelled the planned visit a provocation.
The head of the Caledonian Union also said everything needed to be done in order not to revive tensions ahead of the November independence referendum.
The 1988 Ouvea crisis prompted talks which concluded with the Matignon Accords that framed the relationship between the rival sides and the French state for a decade.
Coalition talk dismissed
FRENCH POLYNESIA – The leader of French Polynesia’s pro-independence party has ruled out entering into a coalition for the second round of the territorial election.
Oscar Temaru made the statement on Tahiti Nui TV after the leader of the Tapura Huiraatira Party claimed a coalition had formed against his party which easily won the first round poll.
Edouard Fritch earlier told Tahiti Nui TV that the Tahoeraa and the pro-independence Tavini would join forces to try to defeat his party, which has been the current government.
Fritch said the Tavini and the Tahoeraa had common ground in being both against the current autonomy statute.
In the first round of the election, the Tapura came first and if it secures the same support in the next round, it will get a large majority in the assembly.
But Temaru said there would be no coalition, making the second round a race between three parties.
He called on those who stayed away last weekend to go and vote after turnout had dropped to 61 per cent.
Police forces sign MOU
SOLOMON ISLANDS– The Royal Solomon Islands Police Force (RSIPF) and the Australian Federal Police (AFP) have signed a memorandum of understanding to work more closely together.
The deal includes information sharing in all areas of law enforcement, co-ordinated operations across all transnational crime types, strengthening and consolidating existing networks and assistance in capacity building and professional development.
A deputy commissioner for the AFP, Leanne Close, said it would enhance relationships at the working and executive levels for both agencies.
Priority issues included drug offences, people trafficking, transnational sex offences, firearms trafficking, cybercrime and terrorism, she said.
The AFP has been the RSIPF’s main partner since responding to the Solomon’s ethnic conflict in 2003.
With police forces from across the Pacific, it contributed to the Regional Assitance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) until the mission ended in 2017.