UN POST REJECTED BY PAPUA NEW GUINEA'S SAREI

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By Neville Togarewa

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (May 13, 1998 - The National/Pasifik Nius/Niuswire)---Dr. Sir Alexis Sarei has reportedly declined to accept his appointment as Papua New Guinea's permanent representative to the United Nations, based in New York, United States.

It is not known why the former diplomat and ex-premier of North Solomons province has declined the appointment to what is considered to be one of Papua New Guinea's most prestigious Foreign Service positions.

But The National understands Dr. Sarei, currently a permanent resident of the United States with a secure job, is reluctant to forgo his permanent residential privileges by accepting the post as PNG's permanent representative to the UN.

A former Catholic priest, Dr. Sarei, is married to an ex-nun from America, and the couple have children.

Meanwhile, the new High Commissioner to Malaysia, Chief Electoral Commissioner Rueben Kaiulo, is also believed to be reluctant to take up his post.

It is understood Mr. Kaiulo has written to Prime Minister Bill Skate expressing his concern that if he accepts the job, it will represent a downgrading of his current terms and conditions as Papua New Guinea's Chief Electoral Commissioner.

The Prime Minister's Media Unit was told of Sir Alexis' and Mr. Kaiulo's positions early yesterday afternoon but failed to respond by late last night.

In the meantime, the Prime Minister will officially open a three-day briefing for new heads of missions at the Granville Hotel this morning.

The new heads of missions are Renagi Lohia (Canberra), Mary Karo (Cairns), Moses Maladina (Wellington), Ponabe Yawa (Honiara), Bob Nenta (Singapore), Reuben Kaiulo (Kuala Lumpur) and Alexis Sarei (New York).

They are scheduled to replace, respectively, Ken Noga, Andrew Ogil, Esekia Tomon, Joseph Asaigo, Leonard Louma (now roving ambassador and deputy to Foreign Affairs Secretary Peter Tsiamalili), Thomas Polume and Utula Samana.

Jack Chawanin is now acting High Commissioner to Singapore while Mr. Samana returned last month and has taken up his new post as Secretary for Personnel Management.

After the briefing, the new High Commissioners and Ambassadors will have to wait for letters of acceptance from the host countries, a formal appointment by the Queen as Head of State, and commissioning by her representative, Governor General Sir Silas Atopare, before they are posted.

The new heads of missions have a very difficult task ahead. They all have to run their respective missions with limited funds but at the same time carry out the government's priorities of promoting investment, trade and tourism as well as representing PNG abroad.

Title -- sn009 DIPLOMACY: Sarei rejects UN post for PNG Date -- 13 May 1998 Byline -- Neville Togarewa Origin -- Pasifik Nius Source -- The National (PNG), Sorariba.N@upng.ac.PG, 13/5/98 Copyright -- The National Status -- Unabridged

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