Friday, August 22, 2008

Fiji Rues Expulsion Threat

State rues expel threat
MARGARET WISE
Friday, August 22, 2008

THE interim Government has condemned moves to expel Fiji from the Pacific Islands Forum and accused Australia and New Zealand of misusing the forum process.
A statement from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said such a move would have a negative domino effect on the merits of regional co-operation in the Pacific.
The interim regime said it noted with regret and disappointment, the tone and content of a statement issued by Forum leaders about the Fiji situation.
The option of expelling Fiji from the 16-member grouping of the Pacific Islands Forum will be made by leaders at a special meeting expected to be convened before the end of the year.
The decision from Matavai resort in Niue was made after lengthy discussions on Fiji's withdrawal from the meeting and refusal to meet the March 2009 election.
The interim Government's statement said the position taken by the leaders demonstrated a clear lack of understanding of Fiji's political situation.
This lack of understanding had also prompted interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama to object to the report of the Foreign Ministerial Contact Group tabled at the Niue meeting.
The interim statement said the assertion that Fiji failed to attend the meeting because of its unwillingness to uphold commitments given in the 2007 forum was factually incorrect and intentionally misleading.
It added that the country's attendance and participation was frustrated and prevented by the New Zealand government.
The interim Government also took exception to the leaders' statement that the decision to discipline Fiji was "consistent with provisions of the Biketawa Declaration".
Section 2 (iv) of the declaration allows leaders to consider other options, if necessary, targeted measures.
But the interim regime said the declaration was never intended to be a mechanism for inflicting retributive measures and allows for "several layers of consultation".
"The selective use of the Biketawa Declaration is not only inappropriate but goes against the very basic principle of inclusiveness and dialogue which is integral to the Pacific Way," the statement said, adding there was consensus in 2000 to keep the option of suspension and punitive measures out of the text.
"Australia and New Zealand favour the very kind of punitive measures now being proposed in the Niue statement on Fiji," the interim Government said.

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