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Jul 20, 2018 Last Updated 6:35 AM, Jul 20, 2018

HAS the new US President played his “trump card” too early in his presidency? Only time will tell. In late January, President Donald Trump signed an executive order which suspended all refugee admissions into the US for 120 days and barred entry to citizens of seven countries – Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

During his presidential campaign, Trump had in fact floated the idea of “a complete and total ban” on all Moslems entering the United States. Although his Executive Order didn’t go all the way to doing that, White House spokesman, Sean Spicer, gloated that the president had “hit the ground running, had a flurry of activity, to do exactly what he said he was going to do.” While the Trump administration has dismissed accusations of being antiMoslem, the fact remains that all seven countries are predominantly Islamic. Criticism has flowed across the Globe from several countries.

However, the backlash against Trump’s executive order has not been restricted to international condemnation. It has led to widespread protests within the United States where criticism has come from affected American citizens, state governors, judges and immigration and homeland security staff. The acting US Attorney General, Sally Yates was promptly “Trump-dumped” for defying the order – an indication of Donald Trump’s resolve to rule with an iron fist in true “The Apprentice” fashion.

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Land sold for US$10 as retrospective law takes effect

OUR ‘Paradise Lost’ story last month about controversial land sale law changes was just hitting the streets in Fiji when news broke of the deportation of one of the law’s biggest opponent, Karen Seaton of Canada. Seaton is a member of the newly formed Fiji Land Owners Association, and she and association spokesperson Dave Rand contributed heavily to the story we published last month.

“They broke into the (hotel) room and at that point I made a formal request for an ambassador. It was denied. They forcibly twisted my arm to remove my phone from me and they forcibly took my purse from me to take my passports. At one point I asked why was I being deported and she said it’s from the highest authority in the nation,” Seaton explained in an email she was only able to send upon her arrival in Los Angeles on a Fiji Airways flight from Fiji. Although a Canadian and US passport holder, Seaton has been living in her home on Koro Island, about eight hours of sailing northeast from Suva, Fiji’s capital.

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Former PM seeks re-election

PROTESTS in Funafuti, capital of Tuvalu, against Tuvalu’s newly appointed Chief Justice saw the deferment to March of a bi-election in the island’s parliament. Strongly tipped to win his Vaitupu seat again is Apisai Ielemia, although the government of Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga has put up an opponent. A member of the opposition and being a former Prime Minister himself, Hon Ielemia lost his seat in a controversial ruling of Chief Justice Charles Sweeney in October last year. Sweeney, an Australian, was appointed by the Tuvalu Governor General at the beginning of 2016 to replace Sir Gordon Ward, who has been unable to travel to Tuvalu through Fiji due to a travel ban the Fiji regime had imposed against him.

He was President of Fiji’s Court of Appeal until his resignation on December 2006 following the military coup that brought to power the then Fiji military commander Frank Bainimarama. Last November’s peaceful protests by about 80 people of mostly men but with some women, young people and children was the second in recent months, all aimed at CJ Sweeney. Protestors carried banners and placards telling the Australian jurist he was no longer welcome to set foot again on Funafuti. Judge Sweeney was reportedly in Australia at the time.

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Australia the US ally

Turnbull plays his Trump card

IN his first statement congratulating Donald Trump on his victory in the US Presidential Election, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull spoke glowingly of the strength of America’s alliance with Australia. “Americans understand that they have no stronger ally, no better friend, than Australia,” Turnbull said. “We have no stronger relationship; whether it is on the battlefield or in commerce, than we have with the United States. They are a great and powerful nation; they are a great and powerful friend. And our relationship with the United States is built on millions of Australians and Americans who have been working together, fighting together, serving together, for over a century.”

Implicit in Turnbull’s laudatory message was an appeal for the US not to abandon Australia when Presidentelect Trump takes over next month, nor indulge in pursuits that would put Australia in the difficult position of choosing between its most valuable economic partner in China and its prized protector, America. It was a petition borne out of the uncertainty that Trump generated in the lead-up to his election as he articulated his position on a limited number of foreign policy issues.

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WITH New Caledonia scheduled to hold a referendum on self-determination in late 2018, there is a looming crisis over who will be eligible to vote. More than 25,000 Kanaks are not properly registered on the French electoral roll, while the status of thousands more French voters is under challenge. If this problem is not resolved quickly by the French authorities, thousands of indigenous people may be unable to participate in the vote on the country’s political future. Since the signing of the Noumea Accord in May 1998, there has been a series of complex and legalistic debates over who is eligible to vote for local political institutions, as well as the proposed referendum on self-determination.

New Caledonia has three different electoral rolls. The general roll covers all French nationals of voting age, who can vote for French political institutions such as the National Assembly and Senate in Paris. Another electoral roll is used for New Caledonia’s local political institutions. It defines voting rights for the three provincial assemblies and national Congress, and is restricted to New Caledonian citizens rather than all French nationals. Yet another list is being developed for the referendum on selfdetermination, which is the culmination of the 20-year long transition towards decolonisation created by the Noumea Accord.

Because of colonial settlement and ongoing migration, the Kanak people are a minority in their own country (a similar problem facing the Chamorro people in Guam or the Melanesian population of Indonesian-controlled West Papua). But the Noumea Accord, which ended the armed conflict of the 1980s, was based on a compromise that the future of New Caledonia should be determined by all long-term residents of the French Pacific dependency, not just the indigenous, colonised people.

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