Question mark still remains over who will lead the Forum


With the countdown now on till the Pacific Islands Forum leaders’ meeting in Rarotonga, a question mark still remains over who will take over from Henry Puna when his term is up.

This is expected to be set in stone in the Cook Islands.

Puna said Baron Waqa remains on track to be his successor: “That is fact. That is correct…the leaders have decided, and I guess at the special retreat last February in Denarau.

“They decided that Baron Waqa will succeed me as Secretary General.

He said that he ‘coincidentally’ met Baron Waqa at a market in Fiji last week.

“It was good to see him and his wife,” Puna said.

Puna refused to comment on whether he supports Waqa being appointed to the role, saying it is up to the leaders to decide.

The Waqa appointment was made as part of a raft of measures to repair a rift that had threatened to sink the regional body.

Questions have since been raised around the appointment process by president of Palau, Surangel Whipps Jr, The Federated States of Micronesia’s former president David Panuelo and Samoa’s prime minister Fiamē Naomi Mataʻafa.

Waqa is a former president of Nauru and has been heavily criticised by rights campaigners over his treatment of the hundreds of asylum seekers placed on Nauru by Australia….