RAROTONGA, 13 NOVEMBER 2023 (COOK ISLANDS NEWS)—Nauru President David Adeang’s abrupt departure from the 52nd Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting may have been a case of misunderstanding, says Forum chair and Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown.

Brown, speaking at a press conference Friday, said the leaders affirmed their strong support for the Suva Agreements and its terms. Through this support, the leaders elected former Nauru President Baron Waqa as the next Secretary-General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.

This decision was made at the leaders’ retreat in Aitutaki on Thursday with the absence of Adeang. Adeang and his delegation walked out of the Leaders Plenary meeting on Wednesday in Rarotonga after questions were raised about the process to nominate the next secretary-general of the Forum.

Adeang did not travel to Aitutaki for the Retreat and left Rarotonga on a charter flight on Thursday morning after meeting with United States Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield.

Brown said: “The departure of the Nauru delegation was unexpected, but the rest of the Micronesia presidential summit that remained, that were there at the retreat, they were able to provide aspects of the Suva Agreement, the location of the oceans commissioner’s office in Palau, and the sub-regional office in Kiribati.”

He said the other Micronesia leaders provided an update on how these projects were progressing and also an update on the secretary-general’s appointment.

“Those were the matters that leaders wanted some information on. May have been a case of misunderstanding of Nauru to depart the Forum meeting.”

Waqa, who has been subject to criticism in the media due to his track record during his time in power, including the sacking of judges, Australia’s Police investigating him for taking bribes, and for imposing harsh restrictions on the media, takes on the role next year from current secretary-general and former Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna….PACNEWS

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