ANALYSIS: Behind The O’Neill Bid Against Yauvoli

Papua New Guinea (PNG) has often been seen as the land of the unexpected. It seems in their current bid to strong-arm their way to becoming the leader of the
27 Apr 2016 11:59
ANALYSIS: Behind The O’Neill Bid Against Yauvoli
Amena Yauvoli

Papua New Guinea (PNG) has often been seen as the land of the unexpected. It seems in their current bid to strong-arm their way to becoming the leader of the South Pacific, they may even split the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG).

PNG has rejected former Fijian Foreign Affairs Permanent Secretary Amena Yauvoli’s appointment as Melanesian Spearhead Group Director-General.

There are a few things that need to be outlined on how Mr Yauvoli came to be appointed as the Director-General.

First MSG Chair Solomons Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare visited all MSG capitals this year.

He met the leaders and got their nod for the appointment of Mr Yauvoli as new MSG Director-General. There appeared to be consensus, the preferred and normal MSG Way.

As a result PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill withdrew their candidate. Now, he has written to the same chair, saying that Mr Yauvoli’s appointment is not recognised and is not legitimate. Typical PNG. The land of the unexpected?

Mr Yauvoli was invited to go to Honiara on April  11 to sign his contract, which he did. There is a binding legal document at play here as well.

Now, we are hearing whispers that the appointment of Mr Yauvoli will be discussed by MSG Leaders when they meet next month on the 5th.

Surprisingly, this is a departure from previous practice. This is far from normal. It has never been done before that the Leaders discuss the appointment of the Director-General after the contract has been signed off on.

PNG and the Solomons have had their turns as MSG Director-General. For  Vanuatu, as  host to the MSG Secretariat, there is an unwritten understanding it defers filling the top job to other member states. It’s Fiji’s turn now.

Why did PNG initially withdraw its candidate their former Secretary for Foreign Affairs and Ambassador to Japan Michael Maue?

Vanuatu also then came up with a candidate who was only endorsed by their cabinet two weeks ago. He is the Vanuatu Ambassador to European Union, Mickey Roy Joy.

What’s all this about? Under Mr O’Neill, PNG craves the leadership status that Fiji has been bestowed by other countries in the Pacific Island region.

Mr O’Neill sees himself as the leader of the biggest and richest country in the region.

It appears to rankle that we get much more attention and respect on the world stage. It must rankle him that our Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama is so much more on centre stage and respected by many.

Mr O’Neill’s muscle flexing efforts at supremacy may now threaten a functional MSG.

That’s unless the PNG fraud squad detectives trying to arrest Mr O’Neill get their way despite his many legal challenges to try to stop this.



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