Forum chair’s unwavering support for Henry Puna

Saturday 6 February 2021 | Written by Supplied | Published in Local, National, Pacific Islands, Regional


Forum chair’s unwavering support for Henry Puna
Henry Puna.

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 Secretary General.

“This was a consensus decision following an agreed process at our Special Leaders’ Retreat on 3 February 2021,” Natano said in a statement yesterday.

“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 selection.

“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 statement.

“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 Zealand.”