15 Dec 2010

Fiji assumes chairmanship of Melanesian Spearhead Group

9:40 pm on 15 December 2010

Fiji has officially assumed the chairmanship of the Melanesian Spearhead Group after a special reconciliation ceremony in the Solomon Islands capital.

The ceremony was organised by the Solomon Islands government to break the impasse between Vanuatu and Fiji over the MSG chairmanship.

The impasse came after Vanuatu's previous Prime Minister Edward Natapei refused to hand over the chairmanship to Fiji under the MSG chair's rotational basis in July on the grounds that Fiji's was an unelected government.

However our correspondent in Honiara Dorothy Wickham reports that Vanuatu's current Prime Minister Sato Kilman and Fiji's Foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola were joined by chiefs from both countries for the handover.

"After the Chiefs declared the transfer that the chairmanship be transferred to Fiji, after the formal reconciliation ceremony, there was a small leaders summit held in which they officially endorsed the chiefs' declaration that Fiji now holds the chairmanship of the MSG."

Dorothy Wickham