Third Pacific leader speaks out about Forum top job

The President of Palau, Surangel Whipps Jr, said there was still time for a review of Micronesia's candidate for the top job at the Pacific Islands Forum.

Concerns have been raised about the Micronesian Presidents Summit endorsing Nauru's controversial former president Baron Waqa to be the next Forum secretary general.

RNZ Pacific reports Waqa is due to take up the role in 2024, replacing Henry Puna.

It was part of the Forum's effort to appease its disgruntled Micronesian members, who had threatened to leave the regional agency.

Speaking to Island Times, Whipps (above) said they want the best man or woman for the job and there is still time to ask more questions from Nauru about this candidate.

The Palauan president is the third Pacific leader to speak out on the issue.

The Federated States of Micronesia's outgoing president David Panuelo earlier suggested that not all of the Micronesian leaders were across some of the issues that make Baron Waqa a controversial character.

And Samoa's Prime Minister Fiame Naomi Mataafa said Waqa's nomination could point to a lack of robustness in the appointment process, and she expected the issue might come up at the Leaders' Summit in the Cook Islands scheduled to take place in October.

She said late last month the appointment process had been badly handled by Pacific leaders when they met in February in a special meeting in Fiji.

Fiame told the ABC the matter was not on the agenda but it was discussed regardless.

She said Panuelo's comments show that perhaps their "process wasn't as robust as it could have been".

Waqa was heavily criticised by rights campaigners while Nauru leader for his treatment of the hundreds of asylum seekers Australia placed on his island.


Photo supplied Caption: President of Palau, Surangel Whipps Jr,