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Thursday 17 Aug 2017 | 09:52 | SYDNEY
Thursday 17 Aug 2017 | 09:52 | SYDNEY

Pacific politicking and a new democracy

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3 December 2010 09:16

It's been an eventful few weeks in Pacific politics. In a month usually devoted to presentations of annual appropriations bills to parliament, the region has engaged in a few changes of personnel.

Vanuatu's Prime Minister Edward Natapei has paid an especially high price for trying to attend international climate change negotiations in Mexico. He lost a motion of no-confidence and the Prime Minister's position has been assumed by veteran MP, Sato Kilman. Last year, Natapei temporarily lost his seat and premiership while en route to a Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting. If he takes the PM's office again in the future, he might be well advised to keep his passport in his pocket.

Solomon Islands has lost two ministers – Fisheries Minister Jimmy Lusibaea lost his seat following his sentencing and Forestry Minister Bobo Dettke was sacked. Although a loss to the government of Danny Philip, the departure of these two Ministers is a good result for governance in Solomon Islands.

Fiji's Defence Minister Ratu Epeli Ganilau resigned unexpectedly on 16 November while he was acting Prime Minister, sparking debate about the stability of Frank Bainimarama's regime.

The Papua New Guinea Parliament again missed a historic opportunity to debate and vote on legislation that would see parliamentary seats reserved for women. The Pacific Islands region has the lowest proportion of women in parliament of any region in the world and PNG could demonstrate some leadership by making this task a priority. Unfortunately, this important debate will have to wait until May next year.

Undeterred by the fun and games of its neighbours, Tonga has held its first ever democratic elections and will soon have a Prime Minister elected by the people rather than appointed by the King (royal palace pictured). Whatever the consequences of politicking elsewhere, the birth of a new democracy in the Pacific is an event worth celebrating.

Photo by Flickr user kalevkevad.

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