Suva, FIJI – JUNE 10, 2022: 10.28 am (FBC NEWS): Fijian Prime Minister and Pacific Islands Forum Chair Voreqe Bainimarama has called for regional solidarity.
This follows the two-day high-level political dialogue held in Suva, where several leaders who were disgruntled with the Pacific Island Forum were united thanks to reforms proposed by Fiji and other members.
Bainimarama said now is the time to bridge our differences and work together for the benefit of the people of Oceania.
“We are a family because we know each other’s challenges and share each other’s struggles as only family can. At a time when our region is host to a contest of competing interests, our bond as Pacific nations has never mattered more.”
Bainimarama issued a statement after the meeting to say it had “reaffirmed the value and importance of our talanoa in our Pacific Way, and represented an important first step towards re-uniting our Pacific family.”
“I am very pleased with the progress that has been made and the recognition shared among my fellow leaders, that our Forum Family is strongest together.”
Micronesia had threatened to boycott the forum if the current PIF Secretary-General did not step down. This was resolved when Fiji proposed that PIFS’s top job be on a sub-regional rotation and this agreement will be documented and no longer be verbal.
Meanwhile, Samoan Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mata’afa wasn’t in office when the rift occurred but says she is happy that leaders have found common ground on the issue.
“Good relations will allow us to pursue many win-win opportunities together—should there be issues, we will handle them in the same constructive spirit and the Pacific Way.”
The reform package is yet to be signed by all member states, but this should be done by July this year.