Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Fiji's boycott unnecessary: Kemakeza

Fiji's boycott unnecessary: Kemakeza
Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Update: 12:31PM Former Solomon Islands prime minister Sir Allan Kemakeza says Fiji's boycott of the Pacific Islands Forum is not in the best interest of the region.

Interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama yesterday announced no Fiji delegation will be attending the Leaders summit in Niue today, blaming a New Zealand decision to prevent the delegation from attending post-forum talks in Auckland.

Tvnz.co.nz reports, last year Solomon Islands boycotted the forum because it was unhappy with a review of the Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission.

Sir Allan, now forestry minister in the Sikua government, said all Pacific Islands leaders should attend this week's meeting in Niue.

"In my view that is not the best interest of the region, especially for Fiji and the Solomon Islands," he says.

Previous forum meetings had allowed him to stabilise unrest in the Solomon Islands, he said.

"That (forum) would the best venue for the leaders to sort out their differences and also to sort out their countries' differences ... especially Fiji and Solomon Islands."

Fiji still on forum agenda
Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Update: 10:21AM Despite Fiji pulling out of the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders summit which will begin in Niue today, issues relating to Fiji will be discussed by member countries.

Forum Secretariat media officer Johnson Honimae told Fiji Times Online the Forum meeting will continue and Fijis issues will still be discussed by the Forum members.

Interim Prime Minister and Finance Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama yesterday announced that no Fiji delegation will be attending the Forum.

"This regrettable and unfortunate situation of Fiji not participating in the Forum meeting in Niue arises because of the decision taken by the Government of New Zealand," he had said.

The incoming Chair and Prime Minister of Niue Toke Talagi and Acting Secretary General of the Forum Feleti Teo are meeting today and will decide on what to do.

Mr Honimae said initial reaction from Dr Teo on the Fijis interim PM not attending the Forum meeting will be a disappointment to the other Forum Leaders,

Solomon Islands former Prime Minister Mannasseh Sogavare boycotted last year's Forum meeting in Tonga because of the RAMSI issue.

"However, Forum Leaders still discussed the RAMSI and made some substantive decisions on the issue," Mr Honimae said.

"Since then Sogavare had been voted out of power through a vote of no confidence because of his boycott of the Forum."

New Zealand had agreed to provide transit visas for Fijis delegation to attend the meeting in Niue; however, the visas only covered the delegations presence within the Auckland airport.

Commodore Bainimarama said: "A part of the Niue forum meeting, namely the bi-lateral meetings will be held in Auckland, New Zealand but the members of the Fiji delegation are being denied the opportunity to participate in those meetings. These meetings are integral to the Forum meeting. This is because the New Zealand Government has decided not to issue visas to enable Fiji to participate."

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