PM Sogavare to attend special retreat in Fiji


PRIME Minister Manasseh Sogavare will attend the Pacific Islands Forum Special Retreat in Fiji from February 22-24.

A well-placed source confirmed PM Sogavare will lead a small delegation to attend the meeting next week.

The Special Retreat came about after the 17 members of PIF, except Kiribati, adopted the Suva Agreement in Fiji last July, with the aim of working together to advance the interests of the Pacific.

Kiribati refused to attend after PIF failed to uphold the ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ to rotate the post of Secretary General.

If the leaders had followed the ‘gentlemen’s agreement’, the SG should come from any country of Micronesia.

Instead, the leaders voted Henry Puna from Cook Islands in Polynesia to be the SG.

This created a rift in the Forum, which the Micronesian countries have agreed to leave the Forum until the SG is given back to them.

Last July, PIF leaders met and adopted the Suva Agreement, even without the presence of Kiribati.

According to Island Times, the ratified Suva Agreement addressed the concerns raised by the Micronesian member countries that the regional body was not inclusive, that it wasn’t honouring agreements, the “gentlemen’s agreement” of rotating leadership of the organisation.

The conditions contained in the Suva Agreement included having the current Secretary-General Henry Puna serve the remaining year and half of his three-year term and for the Micronesian candidate to be appointed as the next SG. There will be two SG deputies, one from each of the two subregions not represented by the Secretary-General. Furthermore, the Office of Pacific Ocean Commission (OPOC) will be a separate office and will be based in Micronesia. Currently this position is also held by the PIF Secretary-General.

Lastly, there will be an in-country office for PIF to be opened also in Micronesia. These details will be discussed between the Micronesian Presidents.

Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade, Jeremiah Manale told media recently during the visit of PIF Secretary General, Henry Puna in Honiara, that the Special Leaders Retreat will give them some of the details in terms of implementing the Suva Agreement and also reflects on Japan’s proposal to release treated nuclear water into the ocean.

Japan is moving to start dumping the one million tonnes of treated wastewater from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi power plant into the Pacific Ocean, in few months’ time.

This treated water was used to clean up the Fukushima plant after the nuclear accident that followed the earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.

Manele said indeed much of our economy and livelihoods depend upon the resources within our ocean.

He said Solomon Islands welcomes further engagement with Japan on this matter to ensure all the necessary data and information needed to reassure Pacific countries that our ocean will not be affected in the slightest way, are obtained and scientifically verified.

“We are a region that has experienced first-hand the effects of the negative impacts of a nuclear testing legacy and it is our wish that such events do not repeat themselves.

“As a signatory to the 1985 Rarotonga Treaty, Solomon Islands remains supportive of a nuclear free region,” he said.

PIF SG Puna is expected to lead a delegation to meet with Japan’s Prime Minister on March 7 to urge him to at least defer the proposed discharge for as early as March or April.

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