A Pacific impasse has been avoided as Micronesian states decided against leaving the Pacific Islands Forum.
This means that Forum secretary general Henry Puna will get to finish his three-year term.
The chair of the Forum, Fijian Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama had called on the leaders of Micronesia to Fiji to discuss the future of the regional body that had stood as a united voice.
The solidarity of the region had prevented China from scoring a regional deal which it had attempted to discuss individually with countries. This was followed by calls from Pacific leaders to have a united stand against geopolitical pressures.
Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown and Samoan Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa were also part of the meetings.
Federated States of Micronesia President David Panuelo, Palau’s president Surangel Whipps Jr and a special envoy from the Marshall Islands were present in person at the Forum Secretariat.
Mr Brown said the talks happened in true Pacific style and the biggest outcome is that the Micronesians are staying in the Pacific family.
“I think the second thing is that the integrity of the Forum’s selection process was maintained so the current secretary general will see out his term and there were some measures that we had proposed actually to strengthen the ties and bonds between our different areas of Micronesia, Polynesia and Melanesia,” Mr Brown said.
“These are part of the proposals that have been accepted by the Micronesian countries.
“We are working on the details around that and we are hopeful that proposal will be fully endorsed by all the leaders after they have received all of the proposals by the leaders meeting in mid-July.”
The proposal offered to the Micronesians looks at strengthening the Forum.
According to the proposal, the positions of the secretary-general and the Forum chair would be rotated by sub-region, with Micronesia to hold the next secretary-general position beginning in 2024 for a term of five years.
There will be two deputy secretary-general positions, each from a different sub-region than the secretary-general.
An agreement was made to create and immediately install a Pacific Ocean commissioner as a role separate and distinct from the duties of the secretary-general.
The Pacific Ocean commissioner’s term will be for three years, with the office based in Micronesia and reporting directly to the leaders.
There is further agreement that a Forum sub-regional office should be created in the Micronesia sub-region.
The selection of Mr Puna at the helm of the Forum was seen as violation of a gentleman’s agreement that would have seen an appointment from Micronesia.
With all quarrels now resolved, it looks more than obvious that this would be the direction the Pacific nations would head to when making the next appointment in 2023.