Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Quit Voreqe for the Good of Fiji

Downer calls for Bainimarama to quit - Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Australia's Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer supports the call for Fiji's military commander Voreqe Bainimarama to stand down.

Mr Downer said the Federal Government welcomed the eminent persons report that recommended Commodore Bainimarama resign and elections be held within two years.

''We hope that the Fiji Government, illegal as it may be, and Commodore Bainimarama will look at implementing the recommendations of the report,'' Mr Downer said.

''We can't undo the past, the coup has happened, but it is very important for the region that Fiji has a roadmap and follows a rapid path back to democracy.''

The report said Commodore Bainimarama, who appointed himself prime minister after seizing power last year, must 'vacate the position' and allow a civilian to be take the post.

It said elections should be held within '18 to 24 months if not sooner' - rejecting a timetable of up to five years given by some members of the military government as 'excessive'.

Mr Downer said the continual military control of Fiji was unacceptable but he refused to comment on possible repercussions for the country if elections were not called.

''The idea of a military commander continuing to control the country is inappropriate,'' he said.

''I think to have a civilian prime minister and a roadmap back to democracy is the right approach for Fiji.

''But we will just have to wait and see.

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