Micronesia stands in support of Nauru

The Nauru delegation led by President David Adeang walked out of the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders plenary meeting yesterday and did not show up at the Leaders’ Retreat at Aitutaki. 

The walkout was reportedly protesting the decision to include the discussion of the next Secretary-General on the leaders’ agenda at the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Retreat in Aitutaki, Cook Islands.

Although the Nauru delegation did not join the leaders at the PIF Leaders Retreat in Aitutaki, the rest of the Micronesian presidents attended. 

The Leaders Retreat is where the Pacific leaders are separated from everyone and can frankly discuss sensitive and important subjects among themselves, trying to reach a consensus.  Among the subjects expected to be on their agenda are the 2050 Strategy Implementation Plan, the nuclear issue, regional security, and the issue of the next Secretary-General of the PIF. 

The five Micronesian Presidents met earlier this week before the 52nd Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting opened and reaffirmed their support of the appointment of Baron Waga as the next Secretary-General under the Suva Agreement.

President Surangel Whipps Jr. expressed support for Nauru and said, “We went through the process and submitted the Micronesian nominee in February, and the leaders accepted him.  If the Forum had rejected the name, we would have taken it back..they could have easily voted at the last meeting to say, well, we’ve accepted the name. Now, let’s go through a process of review and then get back. But they accepted, and we moved on,” said President Surangel Whipps Jr. of the decision.

At the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Special Retreat in Nadi, Fiji, on February 24, 2023, Baron Waga’s appointment as the next Secretary-General was approved by all the Pacific leaders.

When asked by reporters, Fiji’s Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka confirmed he chaired that meeting in February and stands by the decision made by the leaders.

Meanwhile, questions about Baron Waga’s eligibility have been raised, particularly his previous records of sacking judges and being investigated for bribery.  Fiji’s Prime Minister Rabuka said those questions should be addressed within the nominating jurisdiction.

President Surangel Whipps Jr. said he had asked Waga about allegations against him during the Micronesian Presidents’ Meeting this week and was told that those were false allegations and a smear campaign.

The walkout by the Nauru delegation at the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting may setback the progress of the Pacific Islands Forum. The decision to table the discussion of the next Secretary-General is likely to cause further division among the member states and make it difficult to reach an agreement on other important issues.

The Pacific Islands Forum is a vital organization for the region. It plays an important role in promoting regional cooperation and addressing common challenges.

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