Preparations are in earnest in Port Moresby to welcome Melanesia Spearhead Group (MSG) Leaders for their 21st biennial summit on Wednesday (14 February).
Senior officials from Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and the FLNKS in New Caledonia were meeting over the weekend ahead of the Leaders’ Summit to finalise issues to go before MSG Leaders for their decision.
The Senior Officials Meeting (SOM) on Saturday and Sunday kick-started a series of meeting in the lead up to the 21st biennial session, which has the theme, “Strengthening Trade and Sustainable Development for an Inclusive Melanesia.”
Speaking to PACNEWS, MSG Secretariat Director General, Ambassador Amena Yauvoli said the Senior Officials meeting will discuss policies, work programme and budget for the coming two years.
“These policy issues will require the endorsement of Foreign Ministers as well as Leaders. On Sunday senior officials will discuss the 2018 Work Programme and Budget.
On Monday, Foreign Ministers will convene to endorse reports that will form the agenda of the Leaders meeting on Wednesday.
“We will be reporting to Leaders on the reform status of the Secretariat as mandated by the Governing Council in December 2016. Also a number of reports will be presented to the Leaders. These include the report on PNG’s 2017 National Elections, report on Arms Trade Treaty, report on the MSG inshore fisheries and an update on membership guidelines, said Ambassador Yauvoli.
He said the criteria for Observers and Associate Members and New Membership Guidelines will be tabled directly to the Leaders on Wednesday for their consideration.
“The decision for new membership is solely the prerogative of Leaders and will be discussed on Wednesday, said the MSG Director General.
A key event will be the traditional hand-over of the MSG chairmanship to the host country Papua New Guinea from Solomon Islands.
“A traditional handing over ceremony will be held on Tuesday evening at the Sir John Guise Stadium to mark the official hand-over of the MSG leadership between the Prime Minister of Solomon Islands, Mr Rick Houenipwela to his Papua New Guinea counterpart, Mr Peter O’Neill.
Ambassador Yauvoli is confident of a strong leadership from Papua New Guinea as it takes over the helm of the sub-regional organisation in the coming two years.
“The revamped Secretariat will need durable and innovative leadership and we are confident that Papua New Guinea will provide that as the Secretariat attempts to serve the needs of members in a most efficient and effective manner. We look forward to working with PNG in the next two years.
“We hope there will be growth in the organisation’s strength to deal with sensitive issues in the region, said Ambassador Yauvoli.
The Port Moresby Leaders’ Summit will be the first for Solomon Islands Prime Minister, who came to power in November last year.
Vanuatu’s Prime Minister, Mr Charlot Salwai and his foreign affairs minister, Mr Ralph Regenvanu will be in Port Moresby for the MSG Leaders’ Summit, while the FLNKS delegation will be led by Victor Tutugoro…
Fijian Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama will be represented by the country’s Defence and National Security Minister, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola.