Palau withdraws from Pacific Islands Forum, to close Suva embassy

The Republic of Palau says it will terminate its participation in the Pacific Islands’ Forum and subsequently close its Suva-based embassy at month-end after their nominee was overlooked for the post of secretary-general.

Palau and the other four Micronesian nations in the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of Nauru, and the Republic of Kiribati unanimously endorsed and nominated Gerad Zackios to the post of SG and were adamant of his success on the basis of the Gentlemen’s Agreement for sub-regional rotation, and threatened to withdraw their membership if outcomes do not conform.

At the culmination of day one of the leaders’ virtual deliberation on Wednesday 3 February, their nominee lost out to Cook Islands’ former Prime Minister Henry Puna, nine votes to eight, prompting Palau to follow through with its threats.

In a statement addressed to the Fijian Government, the government of Palau said: “The process regarding the appointment of the Secretary General has clearly indicated to Republic of Palau that unity, regionalism and the Pacific Way no longer guide the Forum.

“In this difficult global economic situation, and without further participation in the Pacific Islands Forum, the Republic of Palau cannot justify its current embassy expense in Suva, Fiji. Therefore the Government of the Republic of Palau formally advises the Government of Fiji of its decision to close the Republic of Palau’ s Embassy in Suva, effective 28 February 2021.”

The other four Micronesian nations are likely to follow suit.

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