21 Jul 2015

Forum chief visits Nauru amid democracy concerns

1:28 pm on 21 July 2015

The secretary general of the Pacific Islands Forum, Dame Meg Taylor, is heading to Nauru next week amid concerns about a breakdown in democracy on the island.

This follows inconclusive meetings two weeks ago between the Nauru President Baron Waqa and New Zealand's Foreign Minister Murray McCully.

The Forum Secretariat is downplaying the trip saying it is part of an official schedule of visits to all Forum countries before leaders gather for their annual summit in September.

Radio New Zealand International understands Dame Meg's visit comes at the behest of Wellington and Canberra which have expressed concern about the alleged violation of civil and political rights on Nauru.

After their meeting in Sydney, Mr McCully said he and Mr Waqa disagreed on some issues and Mr Waqa disputed some of the media reports about the goings on on Nauru.

Mr McCully hinted that the next tranche of aid to Nauru is being reconsidered, saying the two countries will meet further.

He said he wanted his officials to complete discussions before the aid was due to be delivered in August.

New Zealand provides US$790,000 annually to Nauru's justice sector

In a statement, Mr McCully said Mr Waqa has invited Dame Meg to visit Nauru and he welcomes this engagement on behalf of the members of the Forum.

The Forum Secretariat said Dame Meg's tours to Forum countries include meetings with Forum leaders, senior officials, civil society and representatives from the private sector.

It said Dame Meg has visited 13 Forum member countries and will shortly undertake her official visits with the remaining countries, Nauru and Cook Islands, with a visit to Niue still to be agreed.

In June the Secretariat said it was ready to assist Nauru if the government sought help but said the issues were primarily for Nauru to settle and resolve.

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