Marshall Islands breaks away from Micronesian bloc to back Puna for top Forum job


The Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum, Henry Puna, has been given a lifeline after the Marshall Islands broke ranks from the Micronesian bloc of countries to support the Cook Islanders’ tenure in office.

It’s the first public sign of disagreement between Nauru, the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Palau, and Marshall Islands since they began withdrawing from the Forum because they believed it was time for a Micronesian Secretary General.

The withdrawal was put on hold last month with the President of the Federated States of Micronesia David Panuelo telling Pacific Beat that Puna would step down by June.

In a February letter addressed to Nauru’s President, Marshall Islands President David Kabua urges his Micronesian counterparts to rescind their demand for Henry Puna to leave.

He said Puna was fairly elected and he worries the Micronesian nations could come across as “sore losers”.

The letter was obtained by the Marshall Islands Journal and shared with Pacific Beat.

The revelation comes as Palau’s President Surangel Whipps Junior doubled down on his calls for a change of leadership.

“It’s a Micronesian seat. So that seat will be clear and a Micronesian will be put there and I guess we can if you want to use Secretary Puna’s name, then what is clear to us is that the seat will be vacated, and we can put a Micronesian there,” he said.