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In brief: News from around the Pacific

Monday 11 October 2021 | Written by RNZ | Published in Pacific Islands, Regional


Tonga police noticing an increase in drug cases; Legal action filed against Vanuatu's President; Widodo visit to Papua criticised; Samoa govt look to repatriate Samoa students in Fiji; CNMI acquires 2 new COVID testing machines

Tonga police noticing an increase in drug cases

Police in Tonga are seeing an increase in drug related arrests in Tonga and large amounts of Class A drugs are being seized.

Police say statistics show that in 2018, there were 101 drugs related arrests, in 2019 the number more than doubled to 274 arrests, and drug related arrests rose to 285 in 2020.

Matangi Tonga Online reports this year 185 have been arrested for drugs offences so far.

Drug Enforcement Taskforce Detective Halatoa Taufa said illicit drugs found now in Tonga are mainly cannabis, imported cannabis oil, methamphatamine and cocaine.

He said large seizures included four kilos of methamphetamine in 2018, and 39 kilos of meth in 2019.

Detective Taufa said in 2018, 58 kilos of cocaine was seized in total, and this year more than 14 kilos of cocaine have been seized.

Legal action filed against Vanuatu's President

A constitutional case over the recent pardoning of three former Prime Ministers of Vanuatu - Serge Vohor, Joe Natuman and Charlot Salwai - has been filed against President Obed Moses Tallis.

The former chairman of Public Service Commission, Martin Mahe, registered the constitutional application against President Tallis.

It argues the Constitution has no provisions for the Head of State to pardon convictions, only sentences.

Natuman and Salwai were convicted during their reigns as prime minister in two separate legislatures.

Vohor, on the other hand, was sent to jail when he was Member of Parliament for Santo Rural constituency.

Vanuatu's new president Tallis Obed Moses Photo: Dan McGarry

Widodo visit to Papua criticised

A Papua activist has criticised President Joko Widodo's visit to Papua, saying it will not provide any benefits to ordinary Papuan people.

The Indonesian President was in Papua last week to officially open the National Games and officiate a number of infrastructure projects.

Papua activist Ambrosius Mulait said President Joko Widodo's visit comes as cases of human rights violations are left unresolved.

He also said the Indonesian government appears inconsistent in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic because it is allowing crowds to gather at the National Games events.

Mr Mulait is questioning why the National Games involving thousands of people are continuing given the severity of the coronavirus pandemic in Papua.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo. Photo: Photo / AFP

Samoa govt look to repatriate Samoa students in Fiji

The Samoa Government is looking at how to repatriate Samoan students currently studying in Fiji.

The Samoa Observer reports Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata'afa confirmed the Government is looking at bringing back more than 100 Samoan students in Fiji and also Samoans currently living in Fiji.

The announcement by the Samoa government follows the first case of a Samoan student studying in Fiji testing positive for the Covid-19 last month.

Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata'afa Photo: Eyespy Radio (Samoa) 87.5

CNMI acquires 2 new COVID testing machines

The Northern Marianas has bought two new machines needed to test for the Covid-19 virus.

Our correspondent said the purchase is expected to boost the Marianas Visitors Authority's ability to expand the Tourism Resumption Investment Plan program with South Korea.

The announcement comes as officials confirm four more positive Covid-19 cases bringing the total Covid-19 count for the Commonwealth to 277 since March last year.

PNG's West New Britain to launch an extensive vaccination drive

West New Britain is preparing to launch an extensive vaccination drive in the province this week.

Health and government officials, business owners and leaders are coming together to support the vaccine rollout.

The World Health Organsation is currently train health workers about managing the vaccine roll out which will include both the Johnson&Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines.

More than 60 health care workers from the Kandrian and Talasea districts are attending the training in Kimbe town which also includes vaccine advocacy to help address any doubts about the vaccine.