Peter O’Neil, Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea assumes the chairmanship of the sub-regional bloc the Melanesian Spearhead Group this month when he hosts the long delayed summit of MSG leaders in Port Moresby. He takes over from his next-door neighbour, Rick Houenipwela, Prime Minister of Solomon islands, although bulk of the work of MSG was done by the man Houenipwela replaced during a confidence motion vote last November in Solomon Islands parliament, Manasseh Sogavare.
Mr O’Neil has a lot of work to do. He would need to start by impressing on his Melanesian leaders the need to re-commit to the ideals and aspirations of the MSG. They have to show that commitment by attending the MSG Leaders Summit. Its not good enough to send a cabinet minister or diplomat instead. Funding and Indonesia are going to be the other key challenges for the new MSG chair. If MSG members are not willing to give more money to fund the work of the secretariat, then the regional bloc will have to secure alternative funding options.
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