8 Aug 2020

Five contenders for Pacific Forum top job

6:29 am on 8 August 2020

There are reportedly five contenders for the post of secretary general at the Pacific Islands Forum.

Dame Meg Taylor finishes her second three year term in January.

The secretary general of the Pacific Islands Forum, Dame Meg Taylor.

The secretary general of the Pacific Islands Forum, Dame Meg Taylor. Photo: RNZ / Jamie Tahana

Islands Business magazine reported the five contenders included the retiring Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna; the Marshall Islands US Ambassador, Gerald Zackios; and the former Pacific Community head, Dr Jimmie Rodgers from Solomon Islands.

The other two contenders are the former Fiji Foreign Minister, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola; and the head of the Commonwealth's Gender section, the Tongan Amelia Kinahoi Siamomua.

Tuvalu, which is the Forum chair, sugggested the vote for the new director general be deferred until next year, but the magazine said there appears to be little support for a delay.

Meanwhile, the co-ordinator of the Pacific Network on Globalisation, Maureen Penjueli, said with Vanuatu delaying the chairmanship of the Forum for a year, Dame Meg going and her deputy, Cristelle Pratt, leaving for the Secretariat of African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, the region was facing a leadership vacuum.

Palau's President Tommy Remengesau Jr has said it is Micronesia's turn for the chairmanship, and Zakios appears to have backing from the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru and Palau.

Islands Business said a Fijian secretary general would be an unusual appointment, as Fiji hosts the secretariat, although Ratu Inoke is well known to regional leaders.