TESS NEWTON CAIN |
Fiji elections date announced
The President of Fiji has issued the writ for the next general elections. Fiji will go to the polls on December 14th. Parliament has been dissolved.
This brings to an end a prolonged period of speculation as to when these elections would be held. The campaign period commenced in April. We can expect to see a significant increase in campaigning activities between now and polling day.
Some have already expressed concerns that the choice of date will suppress the i-Taukei vote. This is because people who usually live and work in urban areas such as Suva will have travelled out to rural areas to celebrate Christmas. Although there is only one constituency in Fiji, voters are allocated a specific polling station to attend. This means that people who are travelling need to contact the electoral authorities to be given a new polling station to use.
New Chief Justice in Kiribati
The protracted wrangle over judicial independence and separation of powers in Kiribati has taken another twist.
Over the weekend the Office of the President announced that the Attorney-General, Tetiro Semilota, has been appointed as Acting Chief Justice. It is not clear whether Ms Semilota has relinquished her position as Attorney-General.
The Kiribati government has hailed this development as a huge success declaring Ms Semilota to be the first i-Kiribati and first woman to be appointed to the position. However, questions arise as to how effective Ms Semilota will be in clearing the backlog of cases that has accrued while the judiciary has been in disarray. Given her work as AG, Ms Semilota is likely to face a conflict of interest in many instances which will have a serious impact on her ability to hear both criminal and civil cases.
Bougainville leadership dissatisfied with progress of talks with PNG
In Bougainville, President Toarama has expressed his dissatisfaction with slow progress of negotiations with the Papua New Guinea government in relation to following through on the results of the 2019 referendum on Independence.
In April the governments of PNG and Bougainville entered into the ‘Era Kone Covenant’ which provides a framework for the process of negotiation and planning further to the referendum and with the intention of Bougainville becoming independent in 2027. Under the terms of the Bougainville Peace Agreement, the results of the 2019 referendum must be ratified by the PNG parliament.
However, Toarama has accused the PNG side of dragging their feet over the process and points to the failure of PNG officials to engage on drafting regulations for this process as evidence for this. The Bougainville Government has called for the next meeting of the Joint Supervisory Body to be delayed as an expression of its frustration.
Pacific delegations head to COP
Pacific leaders, negotiators and activists are making their way to Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt for COP27. Whilst this is seen by some as being a “technical” COP there are plenty of important issues with which Pacific delegates will engage.
A statement that was formulated by a gathering of civil society activists will be presented at COP27. The Kioa Declaration is the latest initiative to amplify Pacific voices on the global stage. Meanwhile, Pacific negotiators will seek meaningful progress on loss and damage as well as improved access to climate finance for small island states.
Vanuatu’s delegation to COP will be led by the President of the country, HE Nikenike Vuraboravu. His delegation will be focused on garnering support for a resolution of the UN General Assembly to seek an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice relating to the impacts of climate change on human rights.
Tess Newton Cain is an Adjunct Associate Professor at the Griffith Asia Institute and project lead of the Pacific Hub.