Nauru’s president aims fire at Fiji in support of USP Vice-Chancellor


Nauru’s president has released part of a previously confidential investigation into mismanagement at the University of the South Pacific in defence of the institution’s vice-chancellor.

Lionel Aingimea tabled part of what’s known as the BDO report in Nauru’s parliament and said it showed “clear violation of university rules, unethical conduct, and gross financial mismanagement by the previous administration”.

Professor Pal Ahluwalia first raised the allegations against his predecessor Rajesh Chandra and others in 2019 after becoming USP’s vice-chancellor, which prompted the investigation by the accounting firm BDO.

His actions angered the Fijian government and it forcibly deported Professor Ahluwalia and his wife in February for unspecified immigration breaches.

But the USP Council recently re-appointed him to the role and allowed him to perform his duties from the regional university’s campus in Samoa, rather than the main campus in Suva.

“He is clearly supported by the staff, students and alumni … as demonstrated by the huge outpouring of support throughout the region for him,” said Aingimea.

Aingimea also took aim at Fiji’s Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, who last month claimed Professor Pal’s reappointment was illegal and said his government would withhold funding to the university.

“This move is seen as a divisive and a dismissal move against regionalism … USP needs every contributing member to give its contribution,” Aingimea said.

“USP as a regional university does not belong to any one country,” he said.