Kiribati exit from Pacific forum ‘out of order’, says founding president

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Founding Kiribati president Sir Ieremia Tabai
Founding Kiribati president Sir Ieremia Tabai ... "[President Maamau] is accountable to all the people of Kiribati and he should explain himself, but he has not." Image: UNDP/RNZ

RNZ Pacific

Kiribati’s sudden withdrawal from the Pacific Islands Forum without wider political discussion by the government is out of order, the country’s opposition leader and its first president, Sir Ieremia Tabai, says.

The Kiribati government gave the Pacific Islands Forum secretary-general a letter on Saturday that said the country was withdrawing from the body immediately.

The latest forum summit is now underway in Suva.

Ex-president Tabai was stunned to hear from RNZ Pacific that the country had left the forum, and he said the public had not been told by President Taneti Maamau.

“It’s complete news to me. Explain to the people why that decision has been made,” he said.

“It’s not on — in a system like ours he’s [President Maamau] accountable to all the people of Kiribati and he should explain himself, but he has not.

“It’s simply not good enough.”

Tabai said he could understand the clash with Tuesday’s national day, but at the very least a minister should have been sent to the forum in the president’s place.

This article is republished under a community partnership agreement with RNZ.

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