Apr 10, 2021 Last Updated 4:12 AM, Apr 8, 2021

November (20)

Bougainville votes

Do you agree for Bougainville to have: A)Greater autonomy? B)Independence? This is the question Bougainvilleans are answering this month in a long-awaited referendum, 20 years after peace was brokered. The referendum is the third prong of the 2001 Bougainville Peace Agreement. The other pillars – creation of the Bougainville Autonomous Government (which happened in 2005) and a weapons disposal program—have been successfully managed, and the current poll is expected to return a clear majority vote for independence. In the preparation for polling, bows and arrows have been broken, betelnut chewed, testimonies and stories shared, shell money exchanged, and hands shaken in reconciliation ceremonies across Bougainville

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“It has been a year of hell. I have suffered enormously and so has my family for doing the right thing.”

That was the testimony of University of South Pacific Vice Chancellor, Professor Pal Ahluwalia to the Fiji Parliamentary Standing Committee on Social Affairs this month. Professor Ahluwalia authored an internal report detailing allegations of abuse of office and questionable decisions at the university. Auckland-based accounting firm BDO was asked to investigate the allegations as a result.

Professor Ahluwalia has reiterated that the BDO Auckland report into the allegations will not be made public. This is a problem because the waters are still so very murky. At their November Council meeting, the Directors of USP were given a routine, if timely refresher on the risks and responsibilities of Council members. They were reminded that they were required to act in good faith in what they believe to be the best interests of the University

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An across-the-board pay rise for all government employees including cabinet ministers and parliamentarians, an incentive payment for senior citizens plus an A$10,000 pay out to island communities top the first 100-day priorities of the new government of Tuvalu

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