Henry Puna wants another crack at Pacific Islands Forum top job

The current Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) wants another term in the job.

"I thought being Prime Minister of the Cook Islands for 10 years was the ultimate. But this is more demanding, and in many ways, more pleasurable and more rewarding," Henry Puna said.

"I'm enjoying this job so much. It'd be nice to continue in the role. It's up to how I can perform over the next year," Puna said.

While Puna is optimistic that he will lead the regional body for another term, the decision rests on the regional leaders.

"I'm employed by them, and I'm answerable to them. So whatever the leaders decide, that's what will happen," he said.

Puna's appointment in 2021 sparked a threat by the five Micronesian members to pull out of the forum after their candidate, who they believed had been promised the job, was overlooked.

"All five countries in Micronesia. Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Nauru and Kiribati, submitted their letters of denunciation soon after the forum vote," Marshall Islands Journal editor Giff Johnson told RNZ Pacific.

But around that time, Marshall Islands President David Kabua wrote a letter to the former President of Nauru saying he did not want the Pacific Islands Forum to break up, Johnson said.

Furthermore he wanted Henry Puna to stay on in the job according to the Marshall Islands Journal

In the end, only Kiribati went through with the threat to leave.

The other four Micronesian countries who supported the Marshall Islands' nomination for the role decided not to pull out.

"That was based on a lot of last-minute diplomacy and doing what people out here do really well, which is to talk and try to find ways to keep that group together," Johnson said.

Johnson believes the Marshall Islands President's letter played a significant part in making peace over the issue.