BY GEORGINA KEKEA
MELANESIAN Spearhead Group (MSG) Leaders are now preparing for the 21st biennial session to be held in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea on Wednesday February 14, 2018.
Over the weekend, senior officials from Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and the FLNKS in New Caledonia met to finalise issues which will be before MGS leaders for their decision. West Papua had sat in as an observer during the Senior Officials Meeting (SOM).
Recommendations and discussions from the SOM will be made available to MSG foreign ministers when they meet today for the MSG pre-summit foreign ministers meeting.
The SOM was reported to start with the outgoing chair and Permanent Secretary of the Solomon Islands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and External Trade, Peter Kenilorea Jnr handing over the SOM Chair to PNG’s Acting Foreign Affairs and Trade Secretary, Barbara Age.
Solomon Islands had been commended by Ms Age when she accepted the leadership role from Kenilorea Jnr.
“I’m confident that our meeting today and tomorrow will set an excellent platform to reflect on policy issues and the operation of the MSG Secretariat, Ms Age was reported to say on Saturday by the MSG Office.
After the weekend SOM, today the Foreign Ministers convene to endorse reports that will form the agenda of the leaders meeting on Wednesday.
“We will be reporting to Leaders on the reform status of the Secretariat as mandated by the Governing Council in December 2016. Also a number of reports will be presented to the Leaders. These include the report on PNG’s 2017 National Elections, report on Arms Trade Treaty, report on the MSG inshore fisheries and an update on membership guidelines,” MSG Secretariat Director General, Ambassador Yauvoli told PACNEWS.
The MSG director general also acknowledged the strong leadership of the group by Solomon Islands and the former Prime Minister, Mr Manasseh Sogavare to PACNEWS.
“Hon Manasseh Sogavare’s strong and dedicated leadership took the MSG out of the difficult situation it was in to where it is now, said Ambassador Yauvoli.
Yauvoli revealed to PACNEWS that a key event for the MSG summit will be the traditional handover of the MSG chairmanship from Solomon Islands Prime Minister, Rick Houenipwela to his Papua New Guinea counterpart, Peter O’Neill.
The Port Moresby Leaders’ Summit will be the first for Solomon Islands Prime Minister, who came to power in November last year after Manasseh Sogavare was voted out in a vote of no confidence.
The traditional handing over ceremony will be held tomorrow evening at the Sir John Guise Stadium.
Island Sun understands, Prime Minister Rick Hounipwela has left the country yesterday for Papua New Guinea.