Palau has rejected a proposal by the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Chair and Prime Minister of Tuvalu Kausea Natano, to defer the appointment of the new PIF Secretariat Secretary General saying its an issue that has to be resolved and had nothing to do with COVID-19.

President Tommy Remengesau Jr. and a separate letter to Mr. Natano,   said Palau also did not support the request   to extend the term of Sec-Gen Dame Meg  Taylor  or appoint the Deputy Secretary General FilimonManoni as Acting Secretary-General until a new one was appointed.

On the appointment of the next Secretary General, I must distinguish Palau’s position from that of Tuvalu. Palau feels strongly that the appointment of the next Secretary General should be handled during the Virtual Special Forum Leaders Retreat in 2020. In fact, Palau feels the appointment should be a key focus of the meeting. 

But Remengesau was quick to point out that opposing Tuvalu’s suggestion “will not be construed in any way as inconsistent with the high regard we accord these leaders.”

At the same time, Remengesau expressed firmly that it is  Palau’s position that the next Secretary General of the PIF should come from the Micronesian subregion. 

He said that Palau stands by Micronesia’s nomination, Marshall Islands diplomat Gerald Zackios, which was made in September 2019. 

 Palau along with the leaders of Marshall Islands,  Nauru, Kiribati and the Federated States of Micronesia, in a joint statement Wednesday, also opposed the request  by Tuvalu. 

President Remengesau , Marshall Island President David Kabua, Nauru President Lionel RouwenAingimea, Kiribati President TanetiMaamau and FSM President David Panuelo in a statement sent to Tuvalu also highlighted the importance of selecting the new SG  during the  Virtual Special Forum Leaders Retreat in 2020.

“Regarding your recommendations that the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders postpone the decision to appoint the Secretary-General until the next face-to-face meeting of the PIF Leaders Retreat, we respectfully disagree and do not support this suggestion,” 

The leaders also expressed strongly that its Micronesia’s turn to head the PIFS. 

“In the spirit of the PIF principle of subregional rotation and regional solidarity, it is imperative that the Micronesian subregion be given its due turn and timely opportunity to lead the important work of the PIFS with its nomination of a well-qualified candidate.”

In a 18 June letter, MrNatano suggested postponement of the appointment of the SG to the next formal face to face session of the Pacific Islands Forum’s Retreat.

The PIF chair also said the deadline of nominees for the next Secretary-General role, which was supposed to end on June 19 should be extended until the Forum meeting in Fiji next year.

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