25 Oct 2010

Vanuatu insists its stance on MSG chairmanship is a procedural matter

3:09 pm on 25 October 2010

Vanuatu's Foreign Minister Joe Natuman denies that his government was pressured by Australia and New Zealand into opposing Fiji's accession to the Melanesian Spearhead Group chairmanship.

This comes as a planned special meeting in Solomon Islands to reconcile Vanuatu and Fiji over the MSG chairmanship has been postponed until next month.

The Solomons prime minister says he wants more time to consider the proposed plan to hand the chairmanship from Vanuatu to Fiji via his country.

Meanwhile, Mr Natuman says Vanuatu's position is purely based on the unconstitutionality of having an unelected leader chair the MSG.

"We follow strictly what the constitution of the MSG says for democracy, rule of law, transparency and good governance. That was what the leaders agreed to in the first place before they signed the constitution. Interestingly, Fiji was the one that insisted that we have in the MSG constitution a provision to provide for good governance."

Joe Natuman