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Friday, December 22, 2006

Pacific Islands Forum Chair position transferred back to Chief Somare

The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat has announced yesterday that the Forum's Interim Chair has been transferred back to Papua New Guinean Prime Minister, Rt Hon Grand Chief, Sir Michael Somare, the immediate past holder of that post before Laisenia Qarase's appointment.

According to the Forum Secretary General, Greg Urwin, the decision was made on the basis that the actions of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces have prevented deposed Prime Minister, Mr Laisenia Qarase, from exercising his leadership of the Fiji Government, and have consequently made it impossible as a matter of practicality for him to fulfil his duties as the current Forum Chair before his government's overthrow on December 5.

Mr Urwin says PNG will assume the position until such time a lawful Head of Government in Fiji is able to re-occupy the position, or until the next Leaders’ meeting – whichever occurs sooner. In line with the usual practice that the host country of the Forum Leaders’ Meeting takes on the position of Forum Chair, Fiji this year assumed the position following the Leaders’ meeting held in Nadi in October.

Mr Urwin reiterated that the crisis in Fiji must be resolved through negotiation, within the Constitution and with respect for the rule of law.

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