SOLOMON Islands fell short in its bid to get Dr Jimmy Rodgers to head the region’s leading organisation, the Fiji-based Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.
Pacific Islands leaders meeting in Palau instead selected Papua New Guinea’s Dame Meg Taylor for the top job.
Prime Minister Gordon Darcy Lilo had been pushing hard for Dr Rodgers to be given the job, refusing requests from PNG to withdraw the country’s candidate.
But on the island of Peliliu on Palau’s north, Thursday, where the Forum retreat was held, Pacific leaders decided by consensus to give Dame Taylor the job.
She will replace out-going secretary general Tuilomo Neroni Slade of Samoa whose second term in office ends in October this year.
Forum chair and Palau president Tommy Remengesau said Dame Taylor’s appointment was made through consensus.
PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill told reporters after the decision was announced Dame Taylor’s appointment to the premier organisation in the region is “most humbling.”
“This is an important time for the Forum following the preparation of the Eminent Persons Group Report that is aimed at improving the operation of the Forum,” Mr O’Neill said.
He said Dame Taylor will take exceptional experience to the Forum Secretariat.
“As a former Papua New Guinea ambassador to the United States, and Compliance Ombudsman with the International Finance Corporation of the World Bank Group, Dame Meg has a wealth of experience,” he added.
“Beyond her professional capacity, one of the traits that will see Dame Meg succeed at the Forum Secretariat is her compassion.
“Dame Meg Taylor, as the incoming Secretary General, will be an inspirational leader for her staff and the range of technical officials she will work with across Forum operations.”
In taking her appointment Dame Taylor will be the first female leader of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and will be supported by two Deputies Secretary Generals who are also Pacific Islands women.
These are Andie Fong Toy, Deputy Secretary General for Economic and Political Governance, and Security and Cristelle Pratt, Deputy Secretary General for Strategic Partnerships and Coordination and Corporate Services.
Dame Taylor, 63, is a PNG lawyer and diplomat.
She received her law degree from Melbourne University, Australia, and her masters degree from Harvard University, USA.
She practised law in Papua New Guinea and serves as a member of the Law Reform Commission.
The daughter of Australian explorer, Jim Taylor, she was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2002.
From 1989 to 1994 she was Ambassador of Papua New Guinea to the United States, Mexico and Canada in Washington DC.
She is currently Vice President, Compliance Adviser Ombudsman for the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), World Bank Group.
Papua New Guinea will host the 46th Pacific Islands’ Forum Leaders’ Meeting next year.
By OFANI EREMAE
in Koror, Palau