Official results released in Samoa
The official results of the general elections in Samoa have now been released. They confirm that the HRPP and FAST parties have each secured 25 seats. The remaining seat has been won by Tuala Iosefo Ponifasio, an independent candidate. He has yet to announce whether he will align with one of the bigger parties.
Losing candidates have a ten-day period in which they can lodge a dispute of the results with the courts. In order to do so they must have secured at least 50% of the vote that the winning candidate achieved in order to lodge a dispute.
If the current results stand, the special constitutional measure that guarantees ten percent of the MPS must be women will not need to be activated. Five women candidates are currently MPs designate, including Fiame Naomi Mata’afa, the leader of FAST, who was elected unopposed.
COVID concerns in Fiji and Vanuatu
Both Fiji and Vanuatu have imposed short, localised lockdowns in response to COVID-19 concerns.
In Vanuatu the body of a Filipino sailor that washed ashore some days ago had tested positive for COVID-19. The island of Efate has been placed into a 3-day lockdown whilst contact tracing is carried out. The government has called on anyone who feels they require testing to come forward. The circumstances of the sailor’s death are under investigation. Vanuatu has yet to have any cases of community transmission of COVID-19.
In Fiji, the Greater Nadi and Lautoka area has been placed into lockdown, including a 24-hour curfew. This follows a quarantine worker testing positive after she had been in the wider community. A ‘first-generation’ contact has also tested positive. The government has also announced that they are bringing forward school holidays for the whole of Fiji starting this week.
Pacific protest Japan’s plan to discharge contaminated water into the ocean
Plans by the government of Japan to discharge from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station have been met with concern by Pacific leaders.
A strong statement was issued by Dame Meg Taylor, Secretary-General of the Pacific Islands Forum. She called for the government of Japan to hold off taking any further action, noting “We are of the view that steps have not been sufficiently taken to address the potential harm to our Blue Pacific Continent, including possible environmental, health, and economic impacts. Our fisheries and oceans resources are critical to our Pacific livelihoods and must be protected”.
The issues associated with nuclear contamination are of great importance to the Pacific Islands Forum and were at the basis of the creation of the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty (also known as the Treaty of Rarotonga).
Pasifika teams head to the Super Rugby
In a move that has been a long time coming, the prospects of teams from the Pacific playing in the Super Rugby competition are looking a lot brighter.
Whilst Pasifika players have long been a feature of rugby in both Australia and New Zealand, it has been a longstanding bone of contention that players from Fiji, Samoa and Tonga have not been able to play for home-grown teams. That now looks set to change.
Moana Pasifika and Fiji Drua have now been granted conditional licences to join the competition. This means that they could be competing as early as next year.
World Rugby has provided a financial package to assist with offsetting the costs associated with the teams’ participation. However, both teams are still required to put forward business plans by the end of June. The approval of Rugby Australia is also required for the final go ahead.
Pacific climate activists want Australian commitment
Leading climate activists from the Pacific have called on the government of Australia to do more to tackle climate change.
The call comes as leaders from 40 countries prepare to meet online this week at the invitation of President Joe Biden of the USA.
Leading organisations including the Pacific Conference of Churches and the Pacific Islands Climate Action Network have joined with civil society organisations in Australia to lobby Scott Morrison ahead of the summit.
The activists have called on Morrison to use his seat at the table to amplify the voices of the Pacific and commit to greater ambition when it comes to cutting climate emissions. Of the members of the Pacific Islands Forum, only Australia, the Marshall Islands and New Zealand have been invited to attend the summit.