The achievements of the Pacific Islands Forum should not
be missed amid the rancor. There is still a chance for repair.
It has been a disastrous week for Pacific regionalism. The controversial appointment of Henry Puna as secretary general in a 9-8 vote in last week’s special leaders meeting has splintered the Pacific Islands Forum, with five Micronesian states following through on their threat to leave the Forum if their candidate wasn’t appointed.
Further complicating matters, Fiji appears to have used the distraction of the meeting to swoop in and deport University of South Pacific Vice Chancellor Pal Ahluwalia.
The result of these moves is a region more bitterly divided than at any time in recent history. The North is angry with the South. Everyone is angry at Fiji. Australia and New Zealand are copping it for doing too much – or not enough – depending on whom you talk to. Until temperatures can cool, Pacific regionalism is going to be at best in hibernation and at worst on life support.
Why does this all matter? What can be done to extract the region from the aftermath o