Nauru’s president David Adeang walks out of Forum Leaders meeting
By Pita Ligaiula
Rarotonga (PacNews)--Nauru's President David Adeang and his delegation walked out of the Pacific Islands Forum plenary meeting Wednesday as questions are raised about the appointment of former President Baron Waqa to take over in 2024 as the next secretary general.
Diplomatic sources told PACNEWS, Forum Chairman and Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown had asked Fiji Prime Minister Sitiveni Rabuka's intervention to mediate and resolve the situation.
PACNEWS understands negotiations are underway behind the scenes to get Nauru's president back for the plenary before the leaders depart for Aitutaki for the leaders retreat Thursday.
The Forum Leaders under the chairmanship of Rabuka had agreed to Waqa's appointment at a special leaders retreat in Suva in February. However, since the nomination of Waqa, Nauru's leader from 2013 to 2019, serious concerns over his candidacy have been raised.
In 2014, Waqa's government sacked Nauru's chief magistrate and suspended the chief justice, disrupting the rule of law in the island nation.
Waqa's time in office overlaps with Australia's use of an offshore detention center in Nauru, used to house hundreds of asylum seekers, including women and children.
Waqa's government also clamped down on media freedom, banning Facebook, denying journalists entry and detaining a New Zealand journalist after she interviewed a refugee at a previous Forum Leaders summit.
The 63-year-old was nominated by Micronesian nations to be the next secretary general from next year after they signed the Suva Agreement.
Micronesian nations - Nauru, Kiribati, the Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands and Palau - were afforded the opportunity to nominate PIF's next leader as part of a pact to restore Pacific unity.
The Suva Agreement forms the basis for strengthening the Pacific Islands Forum going forward. Under the Agreement, the position is rotated, and Micronesian members of the PIF worked to nominate the next secretary general.
PIF's position as the Pacific's premier regional body was threatened last year when Kiribati withdrew, only for it to return this year after the intervention of the Fiji government, led by Rabuka.