RNZI: Vanuatu’s Foreign Minister says he’s lost faith in the Melanesian Spearhead Group because of a lack of consensus and political engagement.
The group had become especially contentious after including Indonesia in 2015, which had clashed with United Liberation Movement for West Papua, which holds observer status.
In an interview with Australian thinktank the Development Policy Centre, Ralph Regenvanu, said the MSG was disappointing and becoming less relevant.
“That consensus approach to decision making is failing in the MSG. Vanuatu’s been consistently saying that it’s not happy with the way that decisions are made, that they’re not made in the consensus manner, and that’s continuing.”
Mr Regenvanu said if the group returns to its purpose it could become relevant again.
PRIME Minister Peter O’Neill will confirm this week the date of the 2018 local level government elections after the Government sorts out “conflicting legal advices” which have been causing its delay.
He also told Parliament on Friday that allowances owed to local level government presidents and ward councillors would be paid before the Elections.
O’Neill said he stood by the undertaking he made in Parliament in February that the local level government elections would be held (initially in June or July) this year, and that any changes (to the laws governing the elections) should take place after the exercise was completed.
He said there was no point in creating uncertainty in the minds of our people while the election process was taking place.
He also stood by what he said in February in Parliament that council presidents be elected either by the people or directly by the ward councillors. He said it should be left to each province to decide.
He said there were provinces that wished to have the council presidents elected by the people, and there are provinces that want the presidents to be elected by the ward councillors.
O’Neill said the outstanding allowances claimed by LLG presidents and ward councillors should be settled before the country held the elections.
“I have made those statements in this House and they stand. Those instructions remains as I have stated. And those who do not like them have to find another job,” he said.
East Sepik Governor Allan Bird had asked O’Neill if the undertakings he made five months ago still stood or had they been “overwritten by people who work for the PM”.
“Hereby proclaim the establishment of the united and free Republic of Vanuatu founded on Traditional Melanesian Values, Faith in God and Christian Principles”.
Minister of Internal Affairs, Andrew Napuat, quoted the lines from the Preamble of the Constitution at the end of the Victory Parade at the Seafront yesterday.
Minister Napuat likened the meaning to the trunk of a tree which comprises of branches and leaves and fruits to become a complete tree – an Independent Vanuatu
The Minister paid tribute to the Founding Fathers of the Independence Struggle who, equipped with God’s wisdom, wrote the words of the Preamble to declare Vanuatu an Independent Nation on July 30 of 1980.
He also quoted the first Prime Minister of the Republic of Vanuatu, Father Walter Lini who, in his first speech to mark the country’s Independence Day said, “In this and other tests, we shall need guidance not only from God but from our own custom and traditional values. We are moving into a period of rapid change, rather like a canoe entering a patch of rough water. God and custom must be the sail and the steering paddle of our canoe.
“From 1980 until today, I keep seeing the meaning of his words which keep unfolding before our very eyes. We are entering an era of many changes that are coming. So many times some of the challenges that we are faced with go against the very values we strive to live by.”
On the same note he said lest we forget the wise words of our Founding Father that when Vanuatu is faced by new challenges, we must guard against those challenges by having our faith in God on one side and our custom values on the other (to successfully steer our country through to its destination.
In conclusion, the minister said, “I can hear the sound of victory with the call to safeguard our sovereignty, our values and our very own principles on which we stand”.
Chairman of the Celebrations, Mayor Albert Sandy Daniel, said the world is changing and bringing on challenges for Port Vila City. “We must all unite and work hard as one family, one community, one Municipality, one Government, one country and one people, to face the changes that come”, he said in his opening address.
“And unity is the key to develop, to go forward despite the devastation by cyclone Pam, we work, we smile and we go develop and this is our testimony to the region and the world”.
Port Vila is one of the most beautiful cities in the region, thanks to the donor partners for funding the ongoing infrastructure development projects including the Seafront and Fatumaru Bay Beautification Projects.
The Mayor appealed to the people of Port Vila to take great care of the Capital’s achievements saying it it is everybody’s business to care for the beauty and cleanliness of Port Vila. “To improve the peace loving environment of Port Vila it is up to ‘yumi yet’ – a united effort to to achieve a safe, carefree environment for ourselves and our visitors to enjoy”, he said.
“We can effect change and make a difference for ourselves today and our children of tomorrow. May I take this opportunity to wish you all happy celebration”.