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By Gérard Baudchon

NOUMEA, New Caledonia (December 6, 1999 – PIDP/CPIS)---Mrs. Lourdes Pangelinan, Second Deputy Director of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) since January 1996, has been chosen by the Committee of Representatives of Governments and Administrations (CRGA) as its candidate for the position of Director General of the SPC, according to New Caledonia private radio station RRB (Radio Rhytme Bleu),

A total of 12 candidates originally ran for the position. Then, in July, a screening committee chose five as finalists: a Fijian, an Australian, a New Zealander, Dr. Jimmy Rodgers (Solomon Islands, now First Deputy Director) and Mrs. Lourdes Pangelinan (Guam, Chief of Staff for former Governor Joseph Ada, until 1994).

The CRGA, now meeting in Papeete, Tahiti, French Polynesia, had to choose one person from among the five finalists to be proposed to the conference as future director.

The conference will be in session for two days, December 6th and 7th.

If the conference follows the choice of the CRGA (and this is normally the case), Pangelinan will be the first woman to lead a Pacific Islands regional organization.

New Caledonia has supported Pangelinan's candidacy for numerous reasons, one of which is that she is the only candidate to speak French.

The SPC is the oldest Pacific regional organization (founded by the Canberra Convention in February 1947). The SPC, formerly the South Pacific Commission (until 1997) has been based in Noumea, New Caledonia since 1948. New Caledonia, France and Australia funded the rebuilding of the SPC headquarters during 1992-1995. Initially it was established in the former WWII U.S. military headquarters in Noumea, called "The Pentagon," on the Anse Vata beach.

Pangelinan, if formally appointed Director General, will succeed Dr. Robert Dun, an Australian veterinarian, in January 2000. During his tenure, Dun gave new direction and status to the SPC. It is expected that Pangelinan, who has worked with Dun during the past four years, will continue along the same path.

Rodgers, who also worked with Pangelinan and as Dun’s first deputy, has been SPC’s Suva Operations Manger for the past two years. He is expected to retain that position.

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