Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Return to Camp & Coup as Unconstitutional

Return to camp, military advised Tuesday, February 20, 2007

INTERIM Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama should resign and order his soldiers to return to barracks, it has been recommended in a report.

The report was prepared by the Pacific Islands Forum Eminent Person's Group comprising Vanuatu's deputy prime minister, Sato Kilman, Samoa's Environment Minister Faumuina Luiga, Papua New Guinea's retired chief justice Sir Arnold Amet and retired Chief of the Australian Defence Force General Peter Cosgrove.

The report, which PACNEWS got hold of yesterday, said any assistance by the Forum to the interim administration would be based on its acceptance of the Group's nine-point recommendations.

It includes the return to barracks of all soldiers and Commodore Bainimarama's resignation as interim PM.

The report recommends that he should allow a civilian to lead the Interim Government.

"The Republic of Fiji Military Forces should be asked to take immediate steps to withdraw from its involvement in the Interim Government, with a view to restoring civilian rule as soon as possible,"the Group recommends.

A copy of the report is with Commodore Bainimarama who is studying it, according to Interim Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum. He said the report would have to be studied thoroughly before a public comment was made on it.

The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat said the report has been released to members of the Forum and would not be made public just yet.

PACNEWS said the report also called on the Interim Government to take the country to the polls in 18 to 24 months.

The Group also urged the Interim Government to immediately put an end to all human rights abuses.

The Group also recommends that the Interim Government restricts its activities to four measures. These are: to uphold the 1997 Constitution;

to respect and uphold Fiji's domestic and international obligations; that the RFMF ceases all interference with the judiciary and accountable institutions;

to ensure that all citizens are free to seek legal redress in the courts in relation to events on and following December 5. The report said that if the Interim Government adhered to the group's recommendations, the Forum would consider a phased package of assistance to Fiji. These include financial and technical support for the electoral process and the anti-corruption commission and assistance to restore the independence of the judiciary.

The 21-page report is expected to be tabled at the region's Foreign Affairs ministers meeting next month.

New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark at a press conference told journalists that the timeframe given by the group for Fiji to prepare for the polls is more than enough.

She said the report from the group showed a forward path for Fiji back to democracy.

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