Sabotage claims as PIDF winds up with Fiji home base | Pacific Beat

Sabotage claims as PIDF winds up with Fiji home base

Sabotage claims as PIDF winds up with Fiji home base

Updated 8 August 2013, 10:37 AEST

In an announcement that came as no surprise Fiji is to host a Secretariat for the new regional body - the Pacific Islands Development Forum.

The PIDF was an initiative of Fiji's interim Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama and wound up it's inaugural three day meeting yesterday.

Outlining how the Secretariat would work, Commodore Bainimarama said it would be very different from the Secretariat of the Pacific Islands Forum.

He said the Pacific didn't need expensive facilities or an army of overpaid officials, but results from committed publically-minded individuals ultilising scarce resources to maximum effect.

Radio Australia correspondent, Samisoni Pareti says it is not yet certain what the responsibilities of the new Pacific Islands Development Forum will be.

Presenter: Geraldine Coutts

Speaker: Samisoni Pareti, journalist, Fiji

PARETI: At the conclusion of the three day meeting yesterday they've decided on forming a committee, working group they call it, to exactly map out the way forward. The Prime Minister Bainimarama did speak of having already a channel of communication from the PIDF, the one he had established right through the United Nations through the small island Pacific states grouping that's already at the United Nations. As well as him being chair of the G77. So there is an expectation I believe for whatever the outcome of a decision taken by the Fiji Forum will be channeled through those channels right up to the United Nations level. 
COUTTS: And do we know yet Samisoni what programs and initiatives the PIDF will undertake?
PARETI: Again that's still a question that everybody's asking and I think that is a question that was raised in the final session yesterday and everything's channeled back to the working group. They said that the working group will be representative of all the sectors that were attending the meeting, meaning from government, from the civil society as well as business interests. They will have to seek and map out the kind of programs and focus that this new body will look into. 
COUTTS: So I'm guessing then they won't know who'll be paying for any of the programs that they do develop?
PARETI: Again yes that's right. I think it was one of the Micronesian countries, like the Marshall Islands, so the FSM, Federated States of Micronesia that it raised its concern at the final session that there's a new body being setup and they from their position were worried about the financial implications. Yesterday there was no mention of who's going to fund the next summit, which will be next year. And it was just understood by everybody that Fiji, ... secretariat  and Fiji will be paying for the maintenance of that secretariat.
COUTTS: And did they decide whether the next summit would be in Fiji or will it be similar to the Forum where the chair rotates and goes from country to country?
PARETI: Again that is still yet to be formed, they still haven't decided on that. 
COUTTS: Now diplomatic sources in Fiji have confirmed that Australia and New Zealand tried to undermine Fiji's efforts to host the first ever Pacific Island Development Forum this week. What do you know about that?
PARETI: Yes I think there were discussions yesterday on the margins of the Forum in Fiji yesterday. Apparently there was talk that Australia's Defence Minister raised it with Timor Leste and asked the Prime Minister not to attend the Fiji Forum. Apparently the Prime Minister of Timor Leste did attend anyway and he delivered the keynote address at the opening of the Pacific Islands Development Forum that Fiji setup. And I think there was also some questions about the non-attendance of the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Peter O'Neill because two or three months ago when Bainimarama visited with Papua New Guinea there was an assurance from Mr O'Neill that he would be attending personally, the PIDF. But it so happens on the week that Fiji hosted the Forum Mr O'Neill had to take a state visit to New Zealand. So again that was also being talked about, if that was pre-arranged or an attempt by New Zealand to wreak havoc on Bainimarama's efforts to setup a rival to the Pacific Islands Forum. 
COUTTS: So any other outcomes that you can tell us about?
PARETI: They were still trying to finalise the outcome document last night but they said that there was so much because of the various topics they'd already started so much to write in their outcome statement. They were trying to summarise it basically to look at the need for good leadership in the Pacific, food security, good health, financial reforms and they tried to end it up by having a commitment to action because they said they didn't want to follow other avenues or forums where there's a lot of discussion but no action. So that was some of the ideas they were talking about late yesterday.
COUTTS: Anymore on Australia and New Zealand, the role that they may or may not play in the Pacific Island Development Forum?
PARETI: There were not officials discussions on that, it was no on the agenda, although I do note that the acting high commissioner of Australia and New Zealand were sitting in as observers. But officially whether they will have a role in the future, again that was not spelt out clearly yesterday.

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