The Republic of Marshall Islands will be returning to the Pacific Islands Forum after legislation is passed in its parliament.
Marshall Islands president David Kabua was missing from the Forum leaders meeting held in Suva, Fiji last week along with the president of Kiribati.
The latter notified the Forum meeting in writing of his intent to withdraw, citing differences.
Ms Kabua on the other hand was prevented from attending by his own government which derailed an effort earlier in 2022 to undo legislatively-binding action to terminate the country’s membership in the regional organisation.
A parliament resolution, adopted in February 2021, was allowed to stand on the books despite an impassioned statement by the president earlier this year calling for reconciliation and remaining in the forum, and an attempt by the speaker of parliament to rescind the earlier resolution.
The resolution adopted last year endorsed the Marshall Islands denouncement of the Pacific Islands Forum and supported the government’s letter, submitted in early March last year, to withdraw from the Forum.
This action was taken when the Micronesian states were at loggerheads with the Forum after the appointment of Henry Puna.
However the Marshall Islands willingness to return to the Forum was shown when the nation became a party to the Suva Agreement, the treaty that four of the five Micronesians countries signed to end their argument over Mr Puna’s appointment.
Reports from Marshall Islands suggested that there was now momentum from the leadership to reverse the legislation and start the process by which the Marshall Islands would return to the Forum.
Pacific Islands Forum general secretary Henry Puna said he eagerly awaited the return of the Marshall Islands and hoped that the nation returned to solidify the region.
The chair of the Forum and Fijian Prime Minister said he was confident that both Kiribati and the Marshall Islands would return to the Forum.
“I will continue to work in the coming weeks and months together with Forum Leaders and the Secretary General on this matter – we will spare no efforts in this regard,” he said.
“I am pleased to confirm that we have reached a resolution on the withdrawal of our other Micronesian family members, which is now entitled the Suva Agreement. Seventeen of our Forum Leaders have signed this document and we are now transitioning into the operationalisation phase.
“I would like to thank, in particular, Secretary General Henry Puna and Prime Minister Mark Brown and the Government of the Cook Islands for their efforts to work with us to continue to hold the solidarity of our Forum Family.
“I also thank Prime Minister Mata’afa of Samoa and Prime Minister Brown for joining me in Suva to meet with the Micronesian Presidents in early June.”
It would only be beneficial for the Marshall Islands to return, as the 2050 Strategy for a Blue Pacific Continent would aid the nation in dealing with many of its challenges brought about by climate change.