Great Council of Chiefs convenes 

In Fiji the Bose Levu Vakaturaga (Great Council of Chiefs) has convened for the first time in 16 years. It was abolished by the Bainimarama government who claimed that it was interfering in national politics and fomenting racial divisions and tensions. 

Around 3,000 people were reported to have gathered on Bau island to witness the reinstitution of what is seen as the peak body of traditional leadership in Fiji. Previously many had described the organisation as being racist. In his address as host to the gathering, Ratu Epenisa Cakobau commented that Fiji has changed and that the Bose Levu Vakaturaga (BLV) needs to be able to welcome and cater for everyone in the country. 

The coalition government has commissioned a review of the BLV to determine what is status and role should be in the future of Fiji. This is a contentious issue given past concerns, including failing to speak out against military coups. 

Inaugural Korea – Pacific summit 

Last week the inaugural Korea-Pacific islands summit was held in Seoul. Whilst South Korea has had a small role in the Pacific as a development partner for some time, this meeting of senior officials and leaders marks a significant step-up in engagement. It comes further to the Yoon led government being invited to attend a meeting of the ‘Partners in the Blue Pacific’ last year. 

A joint communiqué and action plan was issued further to the summit. A number of initiatives are envisaged across several sectors, including cooperation to build resilience against infectious diseases, exchanges of journalists, and increased diplomatic presence in the region on the part of Korea. 

Prime Minister Sogavare of Solomon Islands expressed concern about some elements of the communiqué, which he claimed were about ‘taking sides’ which goes against his country’s ‘friends to all, enemies to none’ approach to foreign policy. 

Other Pacific News

In Vanuatu, Prime Minister Ishmael Kalsakau has reshuffled his cabinet. Hon Sato Kilman has been relieved of his Deputy Prime Ministership. That office is now held by Hon Jotham Napat who is leader of the Leaders’ Party and Minister for Foreign Affairs. 

Leading proponents of independence in New Caledonia are looking to the International Court of Justice for an advisory opinion on the validity of the 2021 referendum. The vote was largely boycotted by those in favour of independence who had sought for it to be delayed. 

There is more controversy and conflict at the University of the South Pacific. A former member of the senior management team has submitted a thirteen-page statement of complaint against Vice-Chancellor Pal Ahluwalia under the University’s ‘Whistleblowing Policy’. 

In Papua New Guinea, Prime Minister James Marape has announced that a proposed security agreement with Australia cannot yet be signed. The stated reason for the delay in finalising the agreement is that there are concerns about its potential impact on PNG sovereignty. 

Ministers from Tuvalu and Vanuatu have criticised Australia for continuing to subsidise the fossil fuel industry. Hon Ralph Regenvanu of Vanuatu said that Pacific endorsement of Australia’s bid to host COP31 should be conditional on increased climate ambition from the Albanese government. 


Tess Newton Cain is a Senior Research Fellow at the Griffith Asia Institute and project lead for the Griffith Pacific Hub.