Monday, October 27, 2008

Return Fiji to Polls: Leaders

Fiji must return to polls: Leaders - 27/10/2008

The participants at the Leaders Dialogue were unanimous that Fiji must return to parliamentary rule. At the end of their first-ever meeting in Suva today, convened by interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama, their positions varied on issues such as electoral reform and timeline for a general election.In a joint statement the political leaders said participants also were unanimous in reiterating Fiji’s request to the Commonwealth Secretariat and the United Nations to urgently convene and jointly facilitate the proposed President’s Political Dialogue Forum (PPDF). The statement said the participants reiterated that the PPDF be broad-based and inclusive of all key stakeholders in Fiji, especially because this is of great strategic importance in taking the country forward.The main purpose of the meeting chaired by Commodore Bainimarama was to start dialogue and to build consensus on the way forward for Fiji.However, the statement said the participants, in recognising that for these way forward efforts to succeed, they would need to, individually and collectively, adhere to some basic principles and code. The meeting agreed to adopt the following; a strong commitment to consensus-building through genuine dialogue and consultation; commitment to restoring parliamentary governance; inclusiveness; respect for differences; open-mindedness; recognition of the independence of the judiciary and the constitutional path; and that, going forward, the conduct of dialogue, to be through face-to-face discussions and through meetings such as that of Political Party Leaders and the PPDF. “It was also noted that the statements made at this first meeting of political party leaders are not binding commitments,” said the statement.Meeting interlocutors Dr. Sitiveni Halapua and Robin Nair would draw a comprehensive list of the issues raised and further refine these into a list of commonalities and differences.This list will then be circulated for comment by all the participants. “It was further agreed that with the assistance of Messrs Nair and Halapua, work will now be progressed on the drafting of the Terms of Reference and the draft Agenda as well as the organisational arrangements for the next steps, which are to include further meetings of the Political Party leaders and the convening of the PPDF,” the statement said.“It was also noted that the Prime Minister proposed, if required, to conduct bilateral meetings with individual political parties.”This meeting was held at the invitation of Commodore Bainimarama and representatives of 14 of the 16 registered political parties and the interim Government attended the meeting. Two representatives of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF), Land Force Commander Colonel Pita Driti and Colonel Ifereimi Draunimasi also attended the meeting as Observers.Meanwhile, Fijilive contacted the major political party leaders but their leaders declined to make separate statements on the meeting today

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