The number of leaders attending the Pacific Islands Forum summit in Suva, Fiji, has dropped further, with both the president of the Marshall Islands and the Cook Islands prime minister pulling out.
It was revealed at the weekend that Kiribati President Taneti Maamau was not attending the gathering, and his nation had formally withdrawn from the forum.
Nauru’s President Lionel Aingimea was also understood to not be attending, ostensibly because of the soaring levels of covid-19 in his country.
- READ MORE: Kiribati exit from Pacific forum ‘out of order’, says founding president
- Other Pacific Islands Forum reports
Now, Cook Islands Prime Minister Mark Brown has also pulled out, saying he wants to focus on his country’s election, which is to be held in three weeks.
And Marshall Islands President David Kabua has said he would have attended the summit, but was not able to because of a legislatively-binding action to terminate the country’s membership in the forum.
That legislation had resulted from the five Micronesian leaders threatening to pull out 18 months ago over the failure of their nominee to be given the secretary generalship.
A forum committee announced last month that a remedy had been found for this rift and that it would be voted on at this week’s meeting
Kabua announced that the Marshall Islands is no longer a member of the forum, and has not been so since March of this year.
The five Micronesian states which have raised concerns at the appointment of Cook Islands politician Henry Puna as secretary-general of the Pacific Islands Forum are Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru and Palau.
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