Pacific news in brief for March 15

PNG – by-election

The Papua New Guinea Supreme Court has stopped a by-election for the Madang Open seat being held until an appeal filed by the former MP, Bryan Kramer, is concluded.

Kramer had appealed to the Supreme Court over a National Court decision not to review his application of the Leadership Tribunal decision which had cost him his seat.

The National newspaper reported the Supreme Court, which heard the appeal on November 28 last year, has still to hand down a decision.

Kramer is hoping to stand in the by-election when it eventually goes ahead.

Samoa – investigation

The Fa’asaleleaga No. 2 district council has suspended their secretary while they look into the disappearance of SAT175,000, which was part of the district development grant.

This was confirmed by the deputy chair and committee members of the district council to the Samoa Observer on Thursday.

It is understood the Ministry of Finance on behalf of the steering committee is in charge of carrying out the investigation.

Finance Minister Lautimu’ia Uelese Va’ai confirmed the investigation into how the grant was utilised is ongoing, with no definitive answers yet.

The member of Parliament for Faasaleleaga No 2 Magele Sekati Fiaui, also the Associate Minister of Finance, faces mounting pressure as questions regarding the funds persist.

Despite repeated calls for clarification and response, Magele’s failure to engage with the district has contributed to the frustration and delay in implementing vital development projects within the area.

Cook Islands – by-election

Preliminary results of this week’s by-election in Penrhyn shows a close battle between Sarakura Tapaitau and Vaine Wichman.

According to the preliminary count, Tapaitau, the wife of former deputy prime minister Robert Tapaitau, leads with 37 votes, with Wichman close behind at 34.

The final count is scheduled for Friday afternoon, Cook Islands time.

The seat was previously held by Robert Tapaitau who was removed following a conviction earlier this year.


Tonga’s Prime Minister Hu’akavameiliku Siaosi Sovaleni has met with Tang Zhiwen from China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Nuku’alofa.

Matangi Tonga reported Tang Zhiwen is the deputy director-general of the Department of North American and Oceania Affairs.

He is in charge of bilateral relations between China and Australia, New Zealand, and Pacific Islands countries.

Hu’akavameiliku’s office said the pair discussed areas of mutual interest in strengthening China-Tonga friendly relations, and exchanged views on issues of common concern.

Northern Marianas – primary

Incumbent US President Joe Biden topped the Northern Mariana Islands’ Democratic Party’s first ever presidential primary after received 93 of 99 votes.

Voters across Rota, Tinian, and Saipan participated in the primary, held from March 5th -12th.

The 2024 Democratic National Convention will take place in Chicago in August, to nominate the Democratic Party’s candidates for president and vice president of the US.

The Northern Mariana Islands Democratic Party will have 11 delegates at the convention: five automatic delegates composed of party leaders and elected officials, and six delegates who were elected in the primary.

Members of the Northern Marianas’ delegation will also serve on standing committees at the Convention.

Pacific – discovery

A former US Air Force officer turned explorer says he is 80 percent sure he has found the missing plane of Amelia Earhart.

In 1937, Amelia Earhart’s attempt to circumnavigate the globe ended in tragedy when her plane vanished over the vast South Pacific.

Tony Romeo’s company Deep Sea Vision’s sonar technology has detected a shape about 100 kilometres off Howland Island, which is southeast of the Marshall Islands and west of Kiribati.

Romeo said the image was taken from an underwater vehicle using a sonar to shoot out acoustic waves to both sides of the torpedo-like object.

He said the next step is to revisit the site, pehaps with different equipment, where the object sits about 5000 metres deep – deeper than the Titanic.

“Yeah I think that’s the next step – we’ve got to go back, maybe with different equipment,” he said.

“We’ve talked about going back with an RV, taking good pictures, seeing how it’s sitting in the sand, and then based on what we see, engineer a solution to slowly raise the plane.

“We believe strongly that this aircraft needs to be brought home… [Earhart] would want to be brought home, I’m sure.”

Tony Romeo also plans to spend two weeks near Kiribati looking for World War II objects.

According to the news on Radio New Zealand

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