President-elect Surangel Whipps Jr. addressing the media in his first press conference as president-elect. Joining him is the Transition Team of President-elect SWJ secretariat Landisang Kotaro.

President-elect Surangel Whipps Jr. supports  President Tommy Remengesau Jr.’s call  on the Pacific leaders  to honor the gentleman’s agreement that the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) Secretariat’s  secretary general’s post  should go to  Micronesia.

In a press conference  Wednesday with the media, Mr. Whipps said there have been commitments made by the Pacific Islands leaders.

“I absolutely agree with President Remengesau, all the gentlemen who have put out their names are all qualified,  but the region must come together and work together,” he said.

He said the leaders of the forum should have respect for each other , which means honoring the agreement that each sub region takes turns in heading the top regional body.

He said each candidate is qualified but each sub region should have their turn in providing the next secretary general.
Only one Micronesian had ever held the position, the first president of Kiribati, Sir Ieremia Tabai, who was appointed in 1992.

Since then the post has been held by candidates from Australia, Tuvalu, Samoa and twice by Papua New Guinea including current Secretary General Dame Meg Taylor who has been in the role for two consecutive terms.

The leaders of the five Micronesian countries of Palau, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru and the Federated States of Micronesia, named Gerald Zackios, Marshall Islands’ ambassador to the US, as the sub region’s nominee.

The other candidates  vying for the post are  Fiji’s Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, the Cook Islands’ outgoing prime minister Henry Puna, Tongan economist Amelia Kinahoi Siamomua and the former head of the Pacific Community Jimmy Rodgers from Solomon Islands.

The tentative PIF virtual meeting to discuss the SG position is said to be scheduled on Jan. 13.

President Remenegsau said the SG position has been discussed with the President -elect.

“Leaders change but priorities and best interest of Palau and the region remain,” Remengesau stated.  ( B. Carreon)

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