24 Mar 2011

MSG warned against becoming political tool

2:22 pm on 24 March 2011

An academic is warning the leaders of the Melanesian Spearhead Group not to let the body become a tool of geopolitics.

The MSG is currently staging a series of meetings in Fiji leading up to a leaders' summit next Thursday.

It will be chaired by the interim Fiji prime minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, who was given the role after the controversial scrapping of a similar summit last year by the then chair, Vanuatu's Edward Natapei.

An Auckland University Pacific studies senior lecturer, Dr Steven Ratuva, says this consolidates Commodore Bainimarama's power in his scrap with Australia and New Zealand, and he may feel he's now the new regional leader to be reckoned with.

"Perhaps in the long run that kind of thinking may be counter productive to the MSG which really needs to be focussed more on economics and trade rather than in terms of fighting the political battle. So if [Commodore] Bainimarama uses the MSG as a means by which it can leverage politically then it might not be in the future interests of the MSG."