Mar 23, 2018 Last Updated 3:53 AM, Mar 16, 2018

Fiji wins UN presidency role

HISTORY was made last month when Fiji’s ambassador to the United Nations Peter Thomson won the votes to become President of the upcoming 71st session of the UN General Assembly.

He beat leading diplomat of Cyprus, Ambassador Andreas Mayroyiannis by a mere four votes to take over the presidency from Ambassodor Mogens Lykketoft of Denmark who will complete his one year term on 31 August this year.

“The election of Fiji’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Peter Thomson, to be President of the UN General Assembly is a great honour for Fiji,” Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama said in a congratulatory message his office released moments after the win.

“It is the first time a representative of one of the Pacific Small Island Developing States has been chosen to lead the United Nations General Assembly and it has given Fiji and the other island nations a new and stronger voice in New York.” Both from Bainimarama’s remarks and Ambassador Thomson’s own victory address at the floor of the General Assembly, it was clear that his election was done through a long and very strategic campaign involving all of Fiji’s foreign missions and allies.

Thomson’s leading role among Pacific members of the UN, who belong to the Pacific SIDS (Small Island Developing States) bloc clearly won him extra votes, as well as Fiji’s leadership at the Group of 77 plus China nations. read more buy your personal copy at

Sweeney is Tuvalu CJ

PM dodges questions over conflict of interest

CONTROVERSY surrounds the appointment in Tuvalu of its new Chief Justice as questions are being raised about the close links between the appointee and the island’s Prime Minister.

Australian barrister and Queens Counsel Charles Sweeney is Chief Justice of Tuvalu, succeeding Justice Sir Gordon Ward who tendered his resignation citing difficulties in performing his constitutional role because of a travel ban imposed against him by the Fijian Government. Fiji was displeased when Sir Gordon resigned as President of the Fiji Court of Appeal after the December 2006 military coup, and had refused to lift the travel ban every time Sir Gordon wanted to transit through Fiji in order to attend to court duties in Tuvalu.

Contacted two months ago, Tuvalu’s Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga refused to respond to magazine questions about the perceived conflict of interest in the appointment of Sweeney to replace Sir Gordon, given that the Australian QC represented him and several of his cabinet ministers in a defamation case Sir Gordon, as Chief Justice presided over in 2011. Sopoaga and his colleagues as plaintiffs lost the case and got fined AU$50,000 for defamation. read more buy your personal copy at

Full moon falling

Head of State avoids Cooks vote

‘THE work of the devil’ Clerk of Parliament John Tangi gave that explanation for an attempted vote-of-noconfidence in the government of the Cook Islands last month. According to news reports, Tangi blocked attempts by opposition members to enter parliament the day after the vote, or to approach the micro-state’s head of state. Security guards were also posted outside Parliament house to block access. Parliamentary staff were told to stand down and not accept instructions from opposition MPs.

Tangi was quoted by Radio Cook Islands as saying that “we don’t want them tangled in this illegal manner of doing things”.w His comments came as part of an unusually heated response to the vote attempt, in a country where party lines have blurred after endless coalitions, and endless crossings between government and opposition. Finance Minister Mark Brown described the attempt as “borderline treason” which could leave opposition members open to prosecution.

If true, any investigation will likely not include two government MPs who participated in the vote, but who Brown claimed were still part of the ruling party. He blamed former Speaker Norman George, a long-time party-swapper and prime ministerial aspirant, for orchestrating the latest power play. read more buy your personal copy at

O’Neill survives for now

Financial woes, legal wrangles, public protests mount against PNG leader

IT has been a turbulent month in Papua New Guinea as students from four universities boycotted class and demanded for the Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill, to step down over corruption allegations and handling of the economy. Chief among the two key concerns has been the protection of the integrity of the Prime Minister’s office.

Students echoed general public concerns that the Prime Minister, who still has a pending warrant of arrest, related to alleged authorisation of payments to a PNG law firm, should step down and turn himself in for questioning.

The unrest began a month ago, after a series of high-profile arrests by the country’s Police Fraud and anti Corruption squad headed by veteran detective, Mathew Damaru. A senior member of the PNG judiciary, Justice Sir Bernard Sakora, was arrested followed by the Prime Minister’s lawyer, Tiffany Twivey.

A day later, Justice Minister, Ano Pala was arrested and brought in for questioning. Within days of the arrests, a chain of events occurred drawing public outrage particularly on social media. Police Commissioner, Gary Baki, suspended Mathew Damaru and members of the Fraud Squad. Then, members of the Police Special Services Division (SSD) barricaded the office and prevented the media from taking pictures at the Fraud Squad office. read more buy your personal copy at

AUSTRALIAN voters go to the polls on 2 July, after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called a double dissolution of both Houses of Parliament on 8 May. Halfway through the lengthy 55-day electoral campaign, Australia’s relations with its Pacific neighbours have not been a feature of the election.

Despite this, the final result will have important implications for the region, as Australia remains the key aid, trade and military power in the islands, despite anger over Canberra’s climate policy. Current polling suggests a close result, after Australian Labor Party (ALP) leader Bill Shorten has improved his party’s standing following a disastrous election defeat in 2013.

Shorten, a former trade union leader, has advanced popular policies on taxation, health and education, but must overcome criticism of the record of ALP governments between 2007-13. Leading a Coalition government of Liberal and National parties, Turnbull took office in a leadership spill last September, defeating his more conservative rival Tony Abbott.

The Abbott government’s climate policies were widely condemned around the region, and Turnbull is hoping his foreign affairs team can improve Australia’s international standing (look out for yet another post-election Cabinet reshuffle affecting Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, Trade Minister Steve Ciobo and Minister for International Development and the Pacific Concetta Fierravanti-Wells). read more buy your personal copy at


PNA Advertorial 500x702

Find Us on Facebook