A seasoned Fijian diplomat has been appointed as Director General of the Port Vila-based Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) Secretariat.
Ambassador Amena Yauvoli signed his new contract of employment with the MSG Chair, Solomon Islands Prime Minister Hon Manasseh Sogavare, Solomon Islands Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade, Hon Milner Tozaka in his capacity as the Chair to the MSG Foreign Ministers’ Meeting and the Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs and External Trade, Mr Joseph Ma’ahanua in his capacity as the Chair to the MSG Senior Officials’ Meeting, in Honiara this morning.
The ceremony held in the Cabinet chamber was presided over by the Secretary to the MSG Chair, Mr Rence Sore.
Ambassador Yauvoli replaces Mr Peter Forau of Solomon Islands who resigned at the end of December 2015.
Speaking at the ceremony, the MSG Chair welcomed Ambassador Yauvoli to his new job with the MSG Secretariat saying, “I am pleased to welcome you to this very important position. Having looked through your resume, you are a person that we can trust to lead the MSG Secretariat amidst the many changes it is facing.”
He said the MSG has big agendas ahead of it to pursue in terms of political stability, economic development and trade, MSG inclusiveness and climate change and related issues.
The MSG Chair said the report of the MSG Eminent Persons Group which toured MSG countries in 2013 to obtain the views of the people on how they would like to see the MSG in the next 25 years is very clear that the people of Melanesia want to see political stability, economic development as well as an inclusive MSG which encompasses Melanesians of non-Melanesian predominant countries and one that opens its door to the smaller Micronesian and Polynesian countries affected by climate change. The MSG Chair was part of the MSG Eminent Persons Group.
He said the MSG Secretariat may need to review some of its programmes to achieve these objectives, adding that MSG leaders will need to also open up to some sound advises from the new Director General for the good of the Melanesian sub-region.
Responding to the MSG Chairs remarks, the new MSG Secretariat Director General said, “I am so privileged to be rendered the confidence to lead the MSG Secretariat.
Ambassador Yauvoli acknowledged the challenges the MSG Secretariat is fraught with and expressed anticipation to ‘turn them around into opportunities that can be unravelled for our sub-region.’
He said his key message to the MSG Secretariat staff is the need for strategical positioning of the secretariat to deliver the mandate of MSG leaders.
“We are supposed to be a technical organisation delivering the mandates of our leaders.
“We need to be reminded that we are servants of our MSG leaders. We are not above our members. We are servants of our leaders and that is the key message that I’m taking with me to the MSG Secretariat.
Ambassador Yauvoli said he will be ensuring changes to the MSG Secretariat structure in the first three days to make the secretariat work.
He said the MSG Secretariat can be financially turned around as the Melanesian sub-region makes up for the largest region in the pacific.
“We have the largest population and largest portion of resources in the pacific. We have all the resources with us but it is a pity that the MSG Secretariat has not been performing to the expectation of the MSG leaders and people.
He assured the MSG Chair that, “With my commitment, I will turn the secretariat around. For me it is not an issue about money because I believe that once we strategically position ourselves, money will come. Once hearts are happy, money will come. I don’t think we should ask for money first before delivering.”
Ambassador Yauvoli said working in partnership with other organisations is also very crucial in taking the MSG Secretariat forward.
He said the European Union has called him to express their excitement about his new appointment and also those who know him in the pacific region have expressed their keenness to work with him.