Saturday, May 01, 2010

Forum sec quiet on Fiji impact

Posted on - April 30, 2010 

The Suva-based secretariat of the Pacific Islands Forum has declined to say whether Fiji’s year-long suspension from the Forum has had an impact on its operations.

Radio New Zealand International reports that the secretariat said it had decided that the time is not right for it to discuss publicly questions pertaining to its operation.

Australia, which is the Forum chair, in turn said matters relating to the functioning of the secretariat are for the secretariat itself to address.

A spokesperson for the Australian prime minister said the government is not concerned about economic activity generated by the secretariat benefiting the people of Fiji.

Fiji said yesterday that the presence of the secretariat in Suva is not relevant since Fiji is suspended from the agency.

Foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola made the comment after Samoa’s Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi said the secretariat should be moved from Suva because remaining in Fiji compromised the Forum’s principles.

Auckland University academic Dr Steven Ratuva said the suspension did allow the Forum for the first time to exert a moral authority over its members but he said there have been other more far reaching consequences.

“It has fragmented the Forum much more. They have the Melanesian Spearhead Group which is mobilising around Fiji. They have various fault lines within the Pacific Islands’ solidarity. For a long time the Pacific Islands Forum has been based on consensus - I think consensus is beginning to see fractures right at the middle.”

Ratuva said the suspension had altered the region’s geopolitical dynamics with Fiji intensifying its Look North policy towards China and away from Australia and New Zealand.

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