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Samoan PM applauds stability on 50th anniversary of Independence
1:16 pm GMT+12, 01/06/2012, Samoa

Samoa's Prime Minister says his country - which is this week celebrating 50 years of independence from New Zealand - has worked hard to maintain stability.

Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele has been prime minister for 14 years and his Human Rights Protection Party has governed for most of the past 30 years.

He has told the Australia Network's Newsline program, while Samoa might now boast a very stable government, it didn't arrive with stability because of the way the government was fashioned with parties.

"It was not easy for them, for one thing, you need to have moneys to run the government and to impose tax, was something completely new to our people, to impose duty, self sacrifice was not yet absolved and accepted in full, so they had to move very carefully not to alienate the people at the same time,” he said.

Tuilaepa also said the country has had to ask China for help financially, because of the inflexibility of the Australian and New Zealand aid programs.

Tuilaepa said he was aware of concerns from Australia and New Zealand about the China's influence in the Pacific.

But he told the Australia Network's Newsline Program that they asked the Chinese for help in filling in the gap that can't be done by Australia and New Zealand.

“The Chinese have been extremely flexible with the programs that we bring with them, they are also prepared to forgive when warranted. For example five years ago, I asked them to help us with our debt problem, and they forgave $80 million of earlier loans, and they have been very good to us, the Chinese.”.

Meanwhile, Australia's parliamentary secretary for foreign affairs, Richard Marles, has gone to Samoa for the celebrations.

“It's a significant moment, not just in Samoan history but in Pacific history,” he said.

“This is the first country in the Pacific to celebrate its independence.

“So this 50th anniversary of Samoan independence in 1962, I think, is a moment to take stock and to look at the whole Pacific.

“It will be a very significant gathering of the whole Pacific family.”

One of the organisations taking part is the Secretariat of the Pacific Environment Program, or SPREP, which has been based in Samoa, and celebrates its 20th anniversary in the same week.

“It's quite an achievement, and we're very happy to be celebrating along with Samoa during this week,” SPREP director David Sheppard said in an interview with Radio Australia's Pacific Beat program.


SOURCE: RADIO AUSTRALIA/PACNEWS


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