Fiji’s seasoned diplomat and former Minister for Foreign Affairs, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola has been nominated as Fiji’s candidate for the position of Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum. 

Making the announcement, Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama said it is a decision that the Fijian Government has undertaken after careful consideration of the complex regional environment and the need for a strong and decisive leadership at the Pacific Island Forum at this time. “COVID-19 has brought about unprecedented challenges to our region.

In spite of this, I have every confidence that we as Fijians and Pacific people will emerge stronger and more resilient, both as individual countries and as one Blue Pacific. 

“It will be a test of leadership at all levels and the Pacific Islands Forum, specifically the position of Secretary General as the custodian of regionalism, will be imperative to the Pacific’s recovery efforts and the long term future of our region,” PM Bainimarama said. 

PM Bainimarama confirmed that Fiji has submitted its nominations to the Forum Chair Kausea Natano, Prime Minister of Tuvalu. “It is a decision that my Government has not taken lightly and I am fully convinced it is the right decision for the people of the Pacific at this defining moment”. 

Reflecting on the factors that determined Fiji’s nomination, PM Bainimarama noted that “Pacific Regionalism has reached a critical crossroads, challenged by shifting geopolitical dynamics that in some way influences the way we do business within the region and in the region’s relations with key development partners. 

“This is further compounded by the multi-faceted challenges we face as Pacific Small Island Developing States, notwithstanding COVID-19 recovery and climate change, the single most critical existential threat to our Blue Pacific,” PM Bainimarama said. 

PM Bainimarama emphasised that the Pacific Island Forum must be led from a position of strength, experience and political savvy.  “To this end, Fiji is of the view that the Secretary General of the Forum should be an individual who has demonstrated experience and ability in seamlessly navigating the political and technical facets of the Pacific Islands Forum, its membership and the regional architecture, whilst simultaneously working to promote and champion collective action.

This is especially crucial at this time when multilateralism and collective action is being challenged at all levels and on a daily basis. “I attach great importance to strong and visionary leadership, if the Pacific Islands Forum is serious about regionalism, then we must have a Secretary General who is able to guide, advise and broker the political relationships and agreements that will be required to move our collective positions forward for the betterment of all Pacific people,” PM Bainimarama said. 

Reflecting on the 50 year journey of the Pacific Islands Forum, PM Bainimarama said that Ratu Inoke Kubuabola’s leadership will be instrumental in charting the course for the next 50 years, particularly in developing a form of regionalism that responds to member needs beginning with the 2050 Strategy for the Blue Pacific.

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