Thursday, March 27, 2008

Doubts Over Fiji Election Promise - No Dates or Milestones

Fiji vague on election date
26 MAR 2008 -
The interim Fiji government has not given the meeting of Pacific Forum Foreign Ministers in Auckland a specific time for election next year.

Radio New Zealand reports that Fiji’s Foreign Ministers Ratu Epeli Nailatikau has, however, told the meeting that it wants to hold elections in March 2009.

The Commonwealth Secretariat Special Envoy to Fiji Sir Paul Reeves told Radio NZ that the “Fiji presentation did not contain dates or milestones hoped for in the run-up to the elections”.

New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters said earlier that dates are important as a sign of good faith.

Fiji’s return to democratic rule is the only item on the agenda of the meeting which ends today.

Aust doubts Fiji election promise
26 MAR

Australian foreign minister Stephen Smith said the interim Fiji Government did not a ppear to be committed to holding an election by March next year.

"We're very concerned that they're not making sufficient preparations, we're very concerned that they may not actually want to discharge the undertaking they previously gave," he told ABC Radio.

Smith said Pacific island countries would keep the pressure on to ensure Fiji kept its promise to the Forum Leaders in Tonga last October.

"It's a matter for the Pacific island nation states to put the weight on and make sure that we do bring Fiji to democracy on the timetable that they've previously committed," he said.

"Fiji either continues to effectively be a pariah in our region or it moves to democracy and human rights - that's the choice for Fiji."

Fiji’s return to democratic rule is the only item on the agenda of the meeting in Auckland today, involving 16 Pacific foreign ministers.

"What's at stake here is whether the interim Fiji government has got an enduring commitment to re-introduce democracy and human rights to Fiji," said Smith.

"There's a lot at stake here."

PR an election ploy: Samisoni
Last updated 3/26/2008 8:26:08 AM

Former Member of Parliament Mere Samisoni believes that the interim government's call for new permanent residency status is a scam to rig next year's election.
Ms Samisoni believes that the interim government is not doing this to attract income into the country but to buy votes at the upcoming general elections.
She was reacting to comments by Interim Immigration Minister Ratu Epeli Ganilau that the new permanent residency status would encourage former Fiji residents to return and contribute to the development of the nation.
Ms Samisoni said: "They want former Fiji citizens, who have migrated overseas and renounced their Fiji passports, to take foreign nationality to be able to vote in next year's elections. They know that their support is less than 50 per cent of the current population so they are trying to move the goalposts so they can stay in power."
She said the interim government might claim that permanent residents would not have the right to vote but once they allowed them in, there was nothing to stop them from changing regulations and allow them to vote.
"This kind of change should not, and must not be instigated by an interim government. This kind of proposal must only come from a legitimately elected government which this regime is not," said Samisoni.
She said the interim government was pretending that this move was for investment purposes and she believes that this was a disguised attempt to cling to power.
Immigration director Viliame Naupoto said the fee for permanent residency status was $3000 and the status was valid for five years.
"The PR allows the holder the freedom to invest and set up businesses in Fiji and in doing so contribute to the economy and is a move towards changing the brain drain into a brain gain for Fiji," said Mr Naupoto.
He said the purpose of the PR was to target former Fiji citizens to come back to Fiji with their skills, experience and wealth and help build the nation.
Ratu Epeli believes that the PR status was a positive move for Fiji.
"This is the first time for Fiji to have PR status and it's a good thing, This is one of the great things we are offering our former citizens of Fiji who have gone abroad and made their living overseas," said Ratu Epeli.
The interim Immigration Minister Ratu Epeli Ganilau said that former citizens should be given the opportunity to come back home and help contribute in the development of the nation.

CCF Writes to Forum Secretariat
Publish date/time: 26/03/2008 [13:11]

The Citizens Constitutional Forum has written to the Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General Greg Urwin, highlighting six main points the CCF hopes will be addressed at the Pacific Forum Foreign Leaders Meeting currently underway in Auckland.

Chief Executive, Rev Akuila Yabaki said the international community needs to enhance its support in certain areas before the proposed election in March, 2009.

The six issues include Fiji's current electoral system which Yabaki said has failed the country.

When questioned on how a new electoral system can come into place before parliamentary approval, Yabaki said so far the Charter process is leading to a referendum.

The second issue includes the preparation and monitoring of the elections, where the CCF said there needs to be clarity in the timing of elections and a comprehensive monitoring of the whole process.

The third, power-sharing after the elections, the CCF believes if power sharing fails Fiji will remain in its cycle of coups therefore needing the international community to support in developing initiatives involving all political parties on a multi-party system.

The fourth issue, the CCF has highlighted is the People's Charter, saying the Interim Government needs to clarify more proactively how the Charter is linked to the elections and the Charter could help in providing a basis for cross party political dialogue in achieving a consensus.

The fifth issue is the return of the military to the barracks, whereby the CCF suggests an assessment of Fiji's security needs, a review of the role of the RFMF and steps towards a multi-racial RFMF and the sixth point highlighted is the potential for violence and conflict saying this is present within Fiji, including the Police and the military and said the stakeholders, communities and international partners need to help in dealing with this problem.

Aust/NZ ready to assist Fiji
Publish date/time: 26/03/

The Australian and New Zealand governments are ready to assist Fiji if a concrete timetable for the elections is unveiled in Auckland today.

As the Pacific Islands Forum Foreign Ministers meeting continues in Auckland, Australian Foreign Minister, Stephen Smith and his NZ counterpart, Winston Peters have stressed that the return to democracy for Fiji is the key point in the meet.

Our correspondent, Radio NZ's Richard Pamatatau said Fiji stands to get assistance from the two countries if they are happy with Fiji Interim Foreign Minister, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau's report.

On the travel sanctions placed against anyone taking up positions under the interim administration, Pamatatau said there could be an easing of the sanctions if Fiji proves that it is serious about having elections in March next year.

The Pacific Islands Forum Foreign Ministers meeting is expected to end this afternoon. Stay with us for updates.

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