Henry Puna is expected to take up the Pacific Islands Forum’s Secretary General position in April this year.
The former prime minister was this week voted in over
Micronesia’s candidate, Marshall Islands Ambassador to the US Gerald Zackious,
by nine to eight. He will replace Papua New Guinea’s Dame Meg-Taylor who had
been in the role for more than six years.
But the Micronesian states are not happy with the selection
and have threatened to leave the Forum, saying that it was their turn to take
up the top role, citing a pledge to rotate the post by sub-region.
However Forum chair Kausea Natano says he remains steadfast
behind the Forum Leader’s decision on the appointment of Puna as the next
“This was a consensus decision following an agreed process
at our Special Leaders’ Retreat on 3 February 2021,” Natano said in a statement
“We have upheld our principles and values as characterised through
the Pacific Way. Central to our Pacific Way is our values of the collective
good, maintaining relationships, talanoa and mutual respect.
“In spite of the difficulty of the discussion and the
differing views, I am pleased that my Colleague Leaders and I were able to
dialogue and agree on a process at our meeting to finalise this appointment.”
Fiji Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama also welcomed Puna’s
“Our region faces serious challenges, none more so than
those posed by climate change and the coronavirus pandemic. It is a time for
unity and collective action, therefore, the Pacific Islands Forum will continue
to be a place where we strengthen our bonds and develop strategies to pursue
our common goals for development, peace and prosperity,” Bainimarama said in a
“I’ve known Henry as a fellow champion for the climate.
Recently, he and I both have been vocal advocates in support of resuming vital
flows of tourism throughout the region. I trust his leadership and offer Fiji’s
unwavering support as he helps lead us through these troubled times. I am
confident that he will be a tireless advocate for people of the Pacific and a
positive force for unity among the Pacific Island Countries, Australia, and New