Monday, September 29, 2008

One last chance: CMAG

One last chance: CMAG

Fiji has been given until early next year to keep to its plan of a March 2009 election or face further sanctions.
In a statement by the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group on the Harare Declaration in New York, the group expressed its disappointment with interim Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama’s statement to the UN General Assembly that he would not be able to meet this deadline.

The CMAG said that by December 2008 Fiji will have reached the two year deadline envisaged in the Millbrook Plan of Action for restoration of democratic government.

“In keeping also with the election deadline of March 2009, it accordingly decided to meet again in early 2009 to review progress. It would then consider further measures, if necessary, consistent with the actions set out in the Millbrook Plan,” the statement said.

The Millbrook Plan includes measures to violation of the Harare Declaration. This could include further bilateral and multilateral measures by all member states, limitation of government-to-government contacts, people-to-people measures, trade restrictions and suspension from the association.

The CMAG underlined the centrality and importance of the Commonwealth’s fundamental values as set out in the Harare principles, particularly with regard to constitutional democracy.

It expressed serious concern at the lack of progress towards elections by March 2009 as pledged to the region, the international community and the people of Fiji by the Interim Government.

It strongly reaffirmed the importance of the March 2009 deadline for elections and urged the Interim Government to adhere to this deadline. It encouraged the Secretary-General to continue his engagement with the Interim Government. It appreciated the efforts by Sir Paul Reeves, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, to promote a broad-based political dialogue. It called on the Interim Government to continue to support this engagement.

It welcomed the agreement of the Fiji Interim Government to a visit by the Forum Ministerial Contact Group before the end of 2008 and recognised that this visit could provide an important opportunity for constructive engagement aimed at progressing a return to democracy.

They agreed that the Commonwealth Secretariat should work closely with the MCG in this regard.

The CMAG reaffirmed that the engagement of the Commonwealth in Fiji should continue to be based on encouraging a comprehensive political dialogue that is broad-based and involves all major stakeholders of Fiji.

“This will ensure an outcome that is sustainable and acceptable to all the people of Fiji, in addressing the coup culture and restoring civilian and constitutional democracy in the country.”

It affirmed that any changes that may come about through this dialogue must have due legitimacy and be implemented within the framework of Fiji’s existing Constitution.

Interim Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum said CMAG may have had an expectation that has not been met and “we need to mitigate that.”

“They have expressed disappointment yes but they have also indicated they are willign to engage and there are positive signals that dialogue would go ahead.”

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