Sat. Feb 27th, 2021

Canberra (Reuters) – A. The former Cook Islands Prime Minister was named the new General Secretary of the Pacific Islands Forum after marathon talks on Tuesday that threaten to fracture the group promoting regional peace, harmony and security.

Henry Puna was named after a conversation that lasted more than 12 hours. He eventually defeated US Marshal Island ambassador Gerald Jackies by nine votes to eight.

Puna will now lead the region to more aggressive global action to combat climate change.

However, the process threatens to fracture the 50-year-old group, which includes Australia and New Zealand and 16 other small islands, which are located in the South Pacific.

Micronian states that it was his turn to fill the post last year and threatened to leave the stage if not allowed.

Jonathan Pryke, director of the Lowy Institute, a Sydney-based think tank, said, “It has been an incredibly damaging 24 hours for Pacific regionalism and unity, the consequences of which will be felt for years to come.”

Largely populated Pacific island countries control vast swamps of resource-rich oceans, and in recent years their strategic location has become a battleground between China and the United States and its allies.

(Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)

Copyright 2021 Thomson Reuters.

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