18 Feb 2021

PNG backs Micronesia in Forum row

11:47 am on 18 February 2021

PNG's Prime Minister James Marape has backed Micronesia's leaders and called for regional solidarity in the wake of the Pacific Islands Forum leadership split.

PNG Prime Minister James Marape addresses media regarding a Supreme Court ruling relating to parliament. 9 December, 2020.

PNG PM, James Marape, has called for regional solidarity Photo: PNG PM Media

Marape released a statement expressing sorrow on the recent decision taken by the Micronesian Presidents' Summit to formally exit from the Pacific Islands Forum after their candidate failed to secure the position of Secretary-General.

The President's group insisted the election of former Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna went against a gentleman's agreement to rotate the position around the Pacific's sub-regions to allow Micronesia to take the next term

Marape said in the interests of regional stability, he proposes that the forum immediately review its charter and processes to ensure it is relevant and covers areas such as a sub-regional balance in its structure and functions.

Marape said his "strong view" is for the Secretary General's position to be rotated amongst the three sub-regions for a four-year term, non-contestable upon expiry.

"This will strike a balance in terms of fair representation and composition of PIF.

"These are amongst other proposals I will be putting forward to ensure all voices are heard and I appeal for the Micronesian Group to remain with the PIF whilst we collectively work to reform it to ensure all Members' rights are respected and preserved in the true 'Pacific Way'".

Marape also confirmed that PNG had voted for the Marshall Islands' Gerald Zackios, who eventually lost the online election by nine to eight.

The PNG Prime Minister said he had written to the Chair of the Micronesian Presidents' Summit and Nauru President, Lionel Aingimea, on the matter.