Pacific Islands Forum solidarity may survive yet

Palau Vice President Jerrlyn Uduch Sengebau Senior
Palau Vice President Jerrlyn Uduch Sengebau Senior

There has been a reprieve for Pacific regionalism and the unity of the Pacific Islands Forum.

And U.S. Secretary of States, Antony Blinken who is currently in Fiji, has welcomed the decision of the Forum’s Micronesian members to press pause on their withdrawal from the grouping.

A Federated States of Micronesia statement following a meeting of the Micronesian Presidents Summit yesterday, said the leaders,”having discussed specific substantive reforms of the Pacific Island Forum and its leadership, and on the basis of consensus, have agreed to temporarily rescind their withdrawal from the Pacific Islands Forum.”

In an accompanying note to Fiji as depository of the PIF Agreement (and current Forum Chair), FSM President David Panuelo states the “pause” on withdrawal is to allow for reforms offered to the Micronesian Presidents Summit to be materialised no later than June 2022.

 Nauru, Marshall Islands, Palau and Kiribati had also indicated they would withdraw from the Forum (following the selection of Henry Puna as the new Forum Secretary General over their preferred candidate, Gerald Zakios,) a schism now averted.

 Earlier this week, Palau’s Vice President, Jerrlyn Uduch Sengebau Senior spoke to Pacific journalists about her hope that regional unity would prevail.

“Solidarity is the name of the game, we need to be able to speak loudly on the issues that affect us, issues of survival, sustainability of culture ocean, we need to be able to speak with one voice.”

Sengebau  Senior said her view is that Micronesians should be in the PIF and proud of it.

Pacific leaders met virtually with U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken today where they also discussed climate change responses and post-COVID recovery.

Photo: Sadhana Sen

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