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Pacific Links: Pacific Islands Forum, Tonga update, PNG defection and more

This week's links include the 48th Pacific Islands Forum underway in Samoa, Tonga without a caretaker government, and a parliamentary defection in PNG.

2017 Pacific Islands Forum Opening Ceremony. Photo: Flickr user US Embassy New Zealand
2017 Pacific Islands Forum Opening Ceremony. Photo: Flickr user US Embassy New Zealand
Published 6 Sep 2017 

By Euan Moyle, an intern in the Lowy Institute's Melanesia Program.

  • The 48th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting opened in Samoa on Monday, with leaders assembling in Apia for the five-day conference. This Radio New Zealand report discusses the concerns and threats shaping the conference.
  • Tonga’s caretaker government is in a state of confusion, with PM Samiuela ‘Akilisi Pohiva out of the country to attend the Pacific Islands Forum. Some reports suggest that Pohiva sacked his deputy Siaosi Sovaleni and Finance Minister Tevita Lavemaau prior to his departure. Pohiva has denied any dismissals took place.
  • Writing in the Diplomat, Grant Wyeth explores how democratic consolidation in Tonga has caused tensions between the traditional ruling elite and ‘commoners’.
  • A faction of the Pangu Pati, PNG’s main opposition party, is reportedly defecting to support the government of Peter O’Neill. Should it go ahead, the defection would substantially weaken the opposition which, with 46 seats in the 111-seat parliament, is the strongest in six years.  The Pangu Pati is expected to meet next week to discuss the move.
  • Victoria’s Supreme Court has ruled that a group of 1300 asylum seekers on Manus Island were illegally detained between 2012 and 2016 and the Australian Government breached its duty of care by holding them in conditions that did not meet Australian standards. The $70 million compensation settlement is the largest human rights settlement in Australian legal history.
  • A warrant for the arrest of the Solomon Islands Minister of Provincial Governments and Institutional Strengthening David Tome was issued in Honiara after he failed to appear in court on Friday. Tome faces 14 charges after allegedly withdrawing over $10,000 intended for a forestry project in his constituency.
  • Some 16 years ago the Bougainville Peace Agreement was signed in Arawa, marking the end of a decade-long conflict between the PNG government and Bougainville independence forces. Despite a number of problems with the agreement and its implementation, the peace has held.


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