Australia, NZ criticised for ‘silence’ over recognition for Samoa’s Fiame

FSM President David Panuelo
FSM President David Panuelo ... "I can disagree with them [Australia and New Zealand] for being silent for now.” Image: ABC/Pacific Beat/FB

Pacific Media Watch newsdesk

Australia and New Zealand are being urged to follow the lead of the Federated States of Micronesia, and recognise Fiame Naomi Mata’afa as Samoa’s Prime Minister, reports Pacnews.

But neither Australia nor New Zealand are showing any signs of making such a declaration, with both governments towing the diplomatic line of urging all parties to “uphold the rule of law and respect the democratic process”.

In a similar vein, Henry Puna’s first statement since taking over as Secretary-General of the Pacific Islands Forum, says the Forum family encourages all parties to pursue peaceful means to resolve their difficulties

But Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) President David Panuelo is not afraid to back Fiame, and he is unhappy with Australia and New Zealand’s approach, says ABC Pacific Beat.

“The FSM announced its support for the newly sworn-in Prime Minister Fiame for the same reasons that we denounce former US president Donald Trump for his embrace of fascism and rejection of democracy,” Panuelo said.

Pacnews reports that he urged other democratic countries to show their support for Samoa’s elected leader.

“Australia and New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands Forum for that matter, all have important economic and cultural ties with Samoa [but] I can disagree with them for being silent for now,” Panuelo said.

Senator Heine congratulates Fiame
The Pacific’s first female head of state, Senator Hilda Heine of the Marshall Islands, has tweeted her congratulations to Fiame, calling her the duly elected PM of Samoa.

Solomon Islands’ Opposition leader Matthew Wale also tweeted his disappointment.

“PIF Leaders should be consulting re Biketawa and possible solutions. The longer this impasse drags, the higher the risk to the integrity of Samoa’s democratic institutions”.

Journalist and longtime editor of the Samoa Observer, Mata’afa Keni Lesa agrees, saying “it’s very important for the international community to not only keep an eye on what’s happening in Samoa but step in and say the right things”.

“They cannot be silent on what’s happening in Samoa, because otherwise we’ve seen the examples of what’s happening in other Pacific countries,” he told the ABC’s Pacific Beat.

“Despite what has happened, we are still peaceful and I think there’s still time…this situation can still be salvaged if the right pressure is applied from overseas, knowing how important aid and all the benefits that Samoa gains from the international community, he said.

UN calls for dialogue
The United Nations has called for dialogue in Samoa, reports Pacnews.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres has been following developments since the elections, according to a statement issued by his spokesperson.

“He urges the leaders in Samoa to find solutions to the current political situation through dialogue in the best interest of the people and institutions of Samoa”, it said.

“The United Nations stands ready to provide support to Samoa if requested by the parties.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email