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Puna’s fate at PIF hangs in balance

An effort is being made to unite the disappointed Micronesians with the rest of the members of the Pacific Islands Forum.

The chair of the Forum, Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama is holding a meeting in Suva on Tuesday.

This meeting could decide whether Henry Puna remains as the secretary general of the Forum or if he would be asked to step down to maintain a united Pacific.

In attendance are the President of Palau Surangel Whipps Jr, President of Federated States of Micronesia David Panuelo and special envoys from the Marshall Islands and Kiribati.

Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown and Samoa’s leader Fiame Naomi are also in the country. The Forum is also hosting a Blue Ocean summit on Wednesday.

Micronesians have threatened to leave the Forum after current secretary general Henry Puna was appointed. According to them, a Micronesian was supposed to lead the Forum as discussed.

An effort is being made to unite the disappointed Micronesians with the rest of the members of the Pacific Islands Forum. Picture: Fijian Government

The referendum to decide this action was delayed amidst the geopolitical focus on the Pacific region.

While delivering his address at the opening of the Cook Islands High Commission in Suva, Mr Bainimarama hinted at bridging the divide.

The Fijian Prime Minister is driving at a united Pacific where consensus is needed to agree to matters that would affect the region.

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“But we have a much larger mission to unite our region ahead of us. If we can bridge our most recent differences in keeping with our Pacific way, I am confident we will be a stronger family for it,” he said.

“Our people share the struggle in meeting the recent price hikes. We continue to count on each other to face the urgent threat we face. We can count on each other, we share a future.

Pacific Islands secretary general Henry Puna at the Cook Islands High Commission on Monday evening. Picture: Fijian Government

“A more connected Pacific is a more secure Pacific.”

When Mr Puna was asked if he was hosting the meeting involving the delegation from Micronesia, he said that meeting had been called by the chair of the Forum.

When asked if he was ready to look at other opportunities, he said that would be pre-empting the situation that was yet to happen.

“We have to stay together in unity and push back against those who want to determine for us what is good for us. Despite all the difficulties there is hope and let us see what comes out of it,” said Mr Puna.

“These are opportunities for us as a region. We have to be strategic and smart, we have to safeguard our sovereignty and safeguard what is best for us as individual and as a united front.”

If anything, it appears that a deal could be struck to confirm that the next incumbent to be the secretary general would be from Micronesia.

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