Monday 22 Apr 2019 | 00:47 | SYDNEY
What's happening on

Pacific Islands

French elections reverberate in New Caledonia

    You might wonder whether the result of the recent second round of French departmental elections – with Nicolas Sarkozy taking credit for the UMP's win of 67 departments, trouncing Francois Hollande's Socialists, who got 34 – has anything to do with Australian

Cyclone Pam: A photo essay from a volunteer

By Eva Westfield, who was an Australian volunteer based in Port Vila. Consistently rated the most dangerous countries in the world in terms of disaster risk, Vanuatu is no stranger to the destruction caused by natural hazards. Talk of Cyclone Pam hitting Vanuatu started about a week before it

Rebuilding paradise in Vanuatu

Cyclone Pam has been one of the worst natural disasters the Pacific has ever seen, and the small island nation of Vanuatu was hardest hit. The immediate disaster relief effort is crucial but it is important to realise that the devastating impact of this disaster will be felt in Vanuatu for years to

Post-cyclone aid to Vanuatu

By Jenny Hayward-Jones, Director of the Lowy Institute's Melanesia Program and Philippa Brant, Research Associate  The full extent of the devastation wrought by Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu and to a lesser degree Tuvalu, Kiribati, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea, is not yet

Timor-Leste: New prime minister, new approach

It has finally happened. After months of 'will he, won't he' melodrama, Xanana Gusmão, Timor-Leste's resistance leader and long-serving prime minister, has stepped down. His successor, Dr Rui Maria de Araújo, will be sworn in as prime minister in a ceremony in Dili later today. The new PM will

PNG Prime Minister speaks up on West Papua

    Papua New Guinea's Prime Minister Peter O'Neill did something remarkable last Thursday. In a wide-ranging policy speech at a leadership summit in Port Moresby, he acknowledged the oppression of the people of West Papua. It was the first time an incumbent prime minister of Papua

Freedom of the press in Fiji under pressure

Fiji held its highly anticipated election in September 2014, but does that make it a democracy? There's much more to a functioning democratic system than people putting a mark on a piece of paper and dropping it in a box. Even the international election observers didn't go so far as to say the

Jerry Singirok on PNG violence

By Jenny Hayward-Jones, Director of the Melanesia Program, and Mark Tamsitt, Research Associate at the Lowy Institute. Last weekend's clash between the PNDGF and police, which led to four soldiers being shot and sparked days of rioting and looting in Port Moresby, is a serious incident that needs

Fiji grabs the limelight as leaders of China and India visit

Jenny Hayward-Jones is Director of the Lowy Institute's Melanesia Program and Philippa Brant is a Research Associate at the Lowy Institute. Pacific Island leaders have had the rare opportunity to meet the international leader of the moment, Narendra Modi, and the president of the world's

New Caledonia: Australia must show assertive impartiality

Thirty years ago to the week, New Caledonia was torn apart by violent protests. The pro-independence FLNKS boycotted an election and town halls were burned throughout the country. It provoked a four-year long civil war euphemistically known as 'the events'. At first, Australia supported the Kanak

The case for Pacific Island regionalism

A few months ago I stood on a beach in Tarawa, the most populous of islands comprising the Micronesian nation of Kiribati. It's long and thin sliver of land where you can walk from one side of the island to the other in minutes. It has a population density up to twice that of Sydney or New York, but

Chinese aid in Fiji coming under new pressures

I was in Fiji last week to get an update on Chinese assistance to the country, as part of a larger project I'm doing mapping Chinese aid activities in the Pacific islands, to be launched in early 2015. Navua Hospital, built with Chinese aid assistance, Fiji. (Author photo) Fiji is becoming

In Fiji, Bainimarama is back, stronger than ever

The Fiji elections have delivered a crushing victory for Rear Admiral (Retd) Bainimarama, author of the 2006 coup. The victory was crushing not only for FijiFirst, Bainimarama's party, but also for him personally. FijiFirst received 293,714 out of 496,364 votes cast, giving the party 59.20% of the

New Caledonia: Australia's benevolent disregard

Imagine that the most senior leader of one of Australia's neighbours resigns suddenly during a visit by a minister. And that this follows an election where the winners cannot agree on allocating a key economic portfolio, a street protest where two policemen are shot and a boozy lunch where a senior

Fiji's election: More to do to restore democracy

After eight years of Voreqe Bainimarama's military rule in Fiji, there is much excitement about the prospects for Fiji's return to democracy with elections next week. Seven parties and one independent candidate will contest 50 parliamentary seats. 591,095 Fijians have registered to vote; 120,000

Fiji's election: Fair and free?

On 17 September, Fiji goes to the polls for the first time in eight years. This is a notable step forward given that, when I spoke to people in Suva a year ago, they were still phrasing things in terms of 'IF the election happens'. With the first pre-polling stations having opened a few days ago,

Abbott's first year: Nowhere to be seen in the Pacific

People who laud Tony Abbott's surefooted foreign policy never mention his role in the Pacific islands. It's hardly surprising. Following the precedent set by John Howard, the Prime Minister has not shown much interest in Australia's closest neighbours. Abbott couldn't even spare a day to attend

Fiji elections: What about the economy?

During the time Fiji has been governed by the military, there has been much discussion about the impact of the political situation on economic performance. Satish Chand has argued that each coup Fiji has experienced has pushed the economy back three years, and that the aggregate erosion of the

Fiji's election: Women make their mark

By Jojiana Cokanasiga, an intern in the Lowy Institute's Melanesia Program. She is completing a Masters in Applied Anthropology and Participatory Development at the Australian National University.      Lawyers, entrepreneurs, academics and civil servants are some of the female

How Fiji outsmarted Australia

Last Friday Fijian Interim Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama began his first visit to Australia since taking power in 2006. In response to the 2006 coup, Canberra had imposed travel bans for all members of the Fijian government. These were abandoned earlier this year by the Abbott Government.

Radio Australia cuts hurt the Pacific and Australia

Pacific Island leaders will meet at the annual Pacific Islands Forum meeting next week in Palau. Prime Minister Abbott has cancelled his travel plans in order to focus on the response to the MH17 disaster and is sending Deputy Prime Minister Truss in his stead. Pacific leaders will be disappointed

Solomon Islands: Was RAMSI worth it?

Tobias Haque and Doug Porter have worked on Solomon Islands for the past several years. The views expressed here are those of the authors and not necessarily those of their employers . Jenny Hayward-Jones' recent paper (Australia's Costly Investment in Solomon Islands) suggests

Elections for the future of New Caledonia

On Sunday 11 May elections were held in New Caledonia. They will have a big impact on the future of the French territory. These were the final elections under the 1998 Noumea Accord. This Accord, building on the 1988 Matignon Accords, put an end to bloodshed over demands for independence. They

Budget 2014: The end of an aid era?

By Jenny Hayward-Jones, Director of the Lowy Institute's Melanesia Program, and Philippa Brant, a Lowy Institute research associate. The Abbott Government last night brought down the first annual aid budget since the integration of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and AusAID

Rights abuses continue in Fiji

Every year over 400,000 tourists flock to the pristine islands of Fiji, its celestial exterior barely revealing a turbulent political past. Fiji has been without an elected government since Rear Admiral Voreqe Bainimarama seized power in a December 2006 military coup. That coup was the fourth the

Fiji: A flurry of election activity

    It has been standard practice for a while that the interim government of Fiji and its leader, Rear Admiral JV Bainimarama, makes big announcements late in the day or during weekends. Last weekend proved no exception. On Friday, we learned that the first elections to be held in

Deafening silence on rule of law in Nauru

The status of the rule of law in Nauru became even more precarious with the recent resignation of Nauru's Chief Justice, Australian Geoffrey Eames. After two months of seeking to have the withdrawal of his visa by the Nauruan Government overturned, he now says his position is untenable. This week

Australia-Fiji relations: Bishop's game-changer

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop sprang a surprise on Australia's Fiji watchers last Friday. She not only pulled off what looked like a friendly meeting with Fiji's authoritarian prime minister but also revealed she would soon be normalising relations with Fiji, officially in the freezer

Julie Bishop focuses on PNG's women

On her first visit to Papua New Guinea as Australian foreign minister, Julie Bishop has reconfirmed the high priority the Australia-Papua New Guinea relationship has for Australian foreign policy and declared her deep affection for the country.  A frequent visitor to PNG as shadow minister,

Fiji: An election in 2014 and Bainimarama will stand

In what may be the clearest sign yet that Fiji Prime Minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama (pictured) intends to make good on his promise to hold elections in 2014, he has announced that he will resign as head of the military on 28 February and stand for election. Bainimarama has promised that his

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