SOMARE STILL FUMING OVER PACIFIC FORUM VOTE

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, Aug. 20) -
Prime Minister Michael Somare was still fuming yesterday over the break in
tradition that resulted in Australian Greg Urwin being appointed the new
Secretary-General of the Pacific Island Forum.

Somare stopped short of indicating he had not voted for Urwin
but withheld himself from revealing his vote through the secret ballot —
another break in tradition.

Somare said that in 30 years of the PIF’s existence it had
always been understood that the Secretary-General post was for a Pacific
Islander, excluding Australia and New Zealand.

He said this was done with the understanding that PIF member
countries would support Australia and New Zealand bids for positions on the
United Nations, World Health Organization, World Trade Organization and APEC.

"I told them the old Pacific way is disappearing with me
going back to PNG," Somare said.

Somare said that the Cook Islands candidate had been removed
after the first round of votes, leaving Tongan and Samoan candidates together
with Urwin.

Neither of the two Polynesians would give way for the other,
resulting in Somare suggesting a secret ballot for the three candidates.

Somare said the cut to aid threat obviously weighed in the final
result, which saw Urwin’s selection. All candidates were suitably qualified
for the job.

Somare said he was looking forward to being on the Eminent
Persons Group that examines the Pacific Islands Forum, which was showing signs
of modernization. 

He said with current illegal trafficking of guns and drugs as
well as threats of terrorism, this was needed.

There were undertones suggesting there may be stronger measures
to be considered on selection of a future Secretary-General for the Forum
Secretariat.

August 20, 2003

Papua New Guinea Post-Courier: www.postcourier.com.pg/

 

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