Jobs Events Advertise

Nauru walkout overshadows Pacific Islands Forum

Ben McKay -

On the remote island of Aitutaki, the Pacific Islands Forum leaders meeting will reach a crescendo - but without one member.

Nauru President David Adeang travelled to Cook Islands for the summit, but threw a diplomatic fit on Thursday (AEDT), choosing not to accompany his counterparts to the all-important leaders retreat.

"They're not here and they have their reasons," Palau President Surangel Whipps Jr said.

The Micronesian state walked out of a plenary meeting on Thursday when their controversial choice to be the next Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) secretary general, Baron Waqa, was raised.

Attempts to coax Mr Adeang back inside the tent failed and the Nauru delegation flew out from the Cook Islands on Friday morning, as reported by TVNZ.

Nauru's abrupt exit raises the prospect of another nasty rift in the forum.

Anthony Albanese arrives during a welcome ceremony the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) in Cook Islands.

Last year, another Micronesian nation - Kiribati - announced it had left the 18-nation body, returning only after peace talks yielded significant concessions to Micronesia.

One part of the deal was the right to pick the next PIF secretary general, Mr Waqa.

Mr Adeang and Mr Waqa are reportedly linked to an Australian Federal Police corruption probe into a phosphate dealer Getax, with the ABC reporting the pair took funding from the company.

The pair were instrumental in sacking the country's judiciary, who were Australian, in 2014, and have repeatedly restricted media freedom in their country, leading critics to call Mr Waqa unfit to lead the forum.

Australia Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and other PIF leaders have declined to comment on Mr Waqa's candidacy, leaving the topic to the leaders retreat.

How leaders handle this situation, both Mr Adeang and Mr Albanese included, will be critical to whether PIF remains the region's primary international body.

Mr Albanese said he didn't see the walkout and the group appeared unified to him.

The Australian prime minister has joined the remaining leaders to spend the day on a boat on Aitutaki's luminescent lagoon, discussing the region's issues in private.

Mr Waqa's candidacy has rocketed up the agenda, which also includes climate change, nuclear issues, and a proposal from Fiji Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka to re-badge the Pacific as a "zone of peace".

"I've got a good supporter, prime minister Albanese," he said on Friday.

The PIF summit has already been hit by the non-attendance of leaders from four of the biggest six members: New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, who have sent ministers.

Mr Rabuka said it was a shame Mr Adeang decided not to travel to Aitutaki.

"They should have been here," he said.

Mr Whipps Jr said Nauru's Micronesian colleagues would pick up the slack.

"They said, 'You represent us', so we're here as Micronesia," he said, suggesting the rift could be mended.

"Maybe just a misunderstanding, but we'll get through it."

Ben McKay - AAP

   Related   

Debbie Kilroy slams Queensland's expansion of youth detention, and calls for community solutions
Queensland Premier Steven Miles and Youth Justice Minister Di Farmer initiated the construction of a new 80-bed youth detention...
Joseph Guenzler 1 Mar 2024
New Tuvalu government reaffirms relationship with Taiwan
Tuvalu's new government has reaffirmed its relations with Taiwan after the election, Tuvalu's government says, adding it wants d...
Senate clash after Thorpe raises case of her cousin's death in custody
Labor senator Malarndirri McCarthy has accused independent Lidia Thorpe of making her feel "culturally unsafe" after insults wer...
Dominic Giannini 28 Feb 2024
Leading voices for Indigenous children present reform plan in Canberra
A delegation of Elders, senior leaders and representatives from Children’s Ground and Utyerre Apanpe (First Nations Educators Ne...
Giovanni Torre 27 Feb 2024

   Ben McKay   

DOBBY, Emma Donovan amongst new Indigenous Literacy Foundation ambassadors
National charity the Indigenous Literacy Foundation has announced musician DOBBY, singer Emma Donovan, TV personality Bianca Hun...
Callan Morse 1 Mar 2024
Matildas star Fowler backed despite club issues
Matildas coach Tony Gustavsson says Mary Fowler’s significant lack of playing time for Manchester City is not troubling him as...
Ed Bourke 1 Mar 2024
Retired Grand Slam champ Ash Barty shows her skills in quest for NZ Pro-Am Championship
Ash Barty put on her competitive face once again in her quest for the New Zealand Pro-Am Championship with a brilliant chip fr...
NCA NewsWire 1 Mar 2024
Raging Amazon fires threaten Brazil's Yanomami people
Brazil's northernmost state of Roraima is suffering a sharp spike in wildfires, threatening the crisis-wracked Yanomami Indigeno...