By Pacific Island Times News Staff
Kiribati officially sends notice of exit from Pacific Islands Forum
The government of Kiribati has officially submitted its notice of the nation's withdrawal from the Pacific Islands Forum, a process that will be completed within a year.
Kiribati sent the diplomatic note to Fiji, the Forum's host nation, on July 23.
Kiribati, along with Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands and Nauru protested the outcome of the Forum's February election that gave the secretary-general seat to Cook Island's former prime minister Henry Puna.
“On Feb. 3, 2021, the special forum leaders retreat defied the longstanding tradition of a consensus decision making and failed to honor the gentlemen’s agreement with the election of the incumbent as the new secretary-general following a round of votes," Kiribati said in a statement.
Palau, the FSM and Marshall Islands earlier submitted their diplomatic notes denouncing the Forum's action and notifying Fiji of their exit from the bloc.
The Micronesian group accounts for one-third of the Forum's membership.
The Micronesian nations were dismayed that the Forum ignored their candidate, Marshall Islands Ambassador Gerald Zackios, despite an earlier agreement that the leadership position would be given to the subregional group based on the rotation system.
The Micronesian President Summit leaders agreed that "there would be no value of remaining in the PIF if the agreement is not honored as documented in the Mekreos Communique, the outcome document of the Special MPS Leaders Meeting."
Puna has officially assumed the secretary-general seat, succeeding the retired Dame Meg Taylor, who held the position since 2014.
In a bid to deter the looming "Micronexit," Puna has called for a political dialogue with the breakaway group.
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Palau President Surangel Whipps Jr., however, is not interested, standing firm on his decision to leave the regional bloc.
Palau, FSM, Marshall Islands and Kiribati leaders boycotted the Forum's 51st virtual session this month, shrugging off Fiji Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama’s renewed apology.