Saturday, August 23, 2008

Leaders ready to suspend Fiji: Clark

Leaders ready to suspend Fiji: Clark
Friday, August 22, 2008

New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark said the Pacific leaders were prepared to suspend Fiji from the councils of the Forum.
She said the message was strong and the ball was in Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama's court to decide what to do.
Ms Clark said the UN and the Commonwealth worked closely with the leaders and that stand taken by the leaders would set the pace.
"This is a strong message and to the people of Fiji that we are targeting the interim government and its behaviour," she said.
Ms Clark said the forum had never suspended any members and this move was a development from the 2000 Biketawa Declaration.
She said prior to that the forum did not act on a member country that went off the road.
Ms Clark said she recalled how the late former Prime Minister of NZ David Lange said he had been to a Forum after 1987 and two coups and the matter was never discussed.
She said that was why the Forum decided there was a need to put in place procedures to engage when a member was in trouble.
Ms Clark said they used the mechanism in the Solomon Islands when it descended into chaos and the RAMSI was put in place.
She said they would exhaust all avenues before further actions.
"To slam the door at the Forum and walk away is a message the EU will hear and Fiji is looking for restoration this will also reach the Commonwealth," Ms Clark said.
She said Commodore Bainimarama needed to consider very carefully his moves.
"The process brings to mind what happened in Zimbabwe and we hope the IG engages and recognizes governments in the Forum wanted to help Fiji return to democratic elections," she said.
Ms Clark said it was hard to consider economic sanctions because as fast as one vacates a market others will use if it was not imposed by all.
She said in practical terms there were no prospects of Fiji restoring relations with important donors if it refuses to engage with the Forum.
"Fiji has undermined its economy and the people by not returning to constitutional governance," said Ms Clark.
She said the forum ad never considered excluding this government before.
"He has underestimated how let down the leaders are," she said.

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