The president of the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) has defended Micronesian leaders’ controversial choice for head of the Pacific Islands Forum, but said more scrutiny was needed before a final choice was made.
Former Nauruan president Baron Waqa — who has a controversial record on human rights and press freedom — has been selected to lead the Pacific Islands Forum as secretary-general starting next year.
The choice was part of a deal to bring Micronesian countries back into the fold after they threatened to leave the intergovernmental body in 2021.
But there are already calls to reconsider Waqa’s appointment to the position.
Panuelo said he was unaware of the allegations laid against Waqa before he was selected as PIF secretary general.
“I supported Baron Waqa because he has been strong for Micronesia and strong against hostile foreign interests and powers,” he said.
But, he said further consideration would be made before Pacific leaders officially endorse Waqa.
“I believe that more review and consideration will be given to him before he takes up the posts of the Forum Secretary General,” Panuelo said.
“I believe further scrutiny will happen,” he said.
SOURCE ABC PACIFIC/PACNEWS