Thursday, March 05, 2009

Commonwealth gives Fiji grace period

Commonwealth gives Fiji grace period
IRENE MANUELI
Thursday, March 05, 2009

FIJI will be suspended from the Commonwealth in September if the interim administration does not show "sufficient" progress towards returning the country to democratic rule.

This was the decision of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group on the Harare Declaration (CMAG) who met in London to discuss Fiji's situation less than 12 hours ago.


In its communique released at about 4am today, CMAG said it would not suspend Fiji as it was "supportive of the joint mediation of the Commonwealth and the United Nations of the Presidents Political Dialogue Forum (PPDF) process in Fiji".

But it specified that should "sufficient progress not take place, consistent with the benchmarks set out in the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Communique", Fiji would be "fully suspended" when the Group next meets in September.

Furthermore, in the absence of satisfactory progress, it would convene an earlier meeting, it added.

The benchmarks stipulated by the Forum in its last communique is that the interim administration nominate an election date by May 1 and hold a general election by the end of December.

CMAG called on all key stakeholders in Fiji to fully co-operate with the Commonwealth and the UN to make the PPDF process meaningful, and "to help achieve an outcome that is legitimate and sustainable and leads to the restoration of civilian constitutional democracy in the country".

It also laid out that the engagement by the Commonwealth and the UN should be "independent, inclusive, time-bound and without prejudice as to its outcome" and it called on the international community to support this mediation process "politically and financially".

Fiji remains suspended from the Commonwealth's Councils, a development that arose soon after the military forcefully took oveBainimarama defiant over CMAG
Thursday, March 05, 2009

INTERIM Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama called on the Commonwealth to suspend Fiji now, saying no one would move Fiji to elections.

Reacting to the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group's six-month grace period for Fiji to adhere to Commonwealth principles, he told Auckland radio station Radio Tarana: "No one is going to interfere in what we are trying to do here; not New Zealand, not Australia, not anybody else, nothing is going to be done.

"There is going to be no elections, no one is going to move us to elections next month for instance, or next two months," he said.

"If we go into elections now, it's not going to serve any purpose. Its probably going to make things worse for the people of Fiji.

He told the radio station that he was expecting Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma to phone him soon.

I will tell him in no uncertain terms nothings going to change, he told the radio station.

Meanwhile, the Fiji media has been alerted to expect the Commodore's official response to CMAG's decision soon.

r the Laisenia Qarase-led government in December 2006.

Video courtesy of www.thecommonwealth.org

Bainimarama "inviting more chaos": NFP
Thursday, March 05, 2009

INTERIM Prime Minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama is "deliberately inviting more chaos and misery" upon the people of Fiji, says the National Federation Party.

NFP spokesman Pramod Rae made the comments following the Commodore's remarks that the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group, which decided against suspending Fiji for now to allow for the proposed President's Political Dialogue Forum process, should go ahead and suspend Fiji.

Mr Rae said Mr Bainimarama's "dictatorial and confrontational attitude towards both august bodies (CMAG and the Pacific Islands Forum, which had opted to give Fiji time to prepare and commit to an elections deadline)" deliberately antagonises Fiji's already poor state of affairs.

"His comment in the media that CMAG should not wait till December but go ahead and suspend Fiji now is further proof of the regimes devious intentions to entrench itself in power for as long as possible," said Mr Rae.

He warned that "with the economy taking a nosedive as a result of the coup and now on the verge of collapse as a result of the recent flooding and financial crisis that has battered even the most powerful economies of the world, the regime cannot afford to invite the international community to isolate a nation already reeling from socio-economic fragility".

"The ball is now in Bainimarama and the regime's court to restore at least some degree of respectability to their tarnished image by adhering to the outcomes of the Forum and CMAG," said Mr Rae.

Unionist suspects 'forum' a 'futile' exercise
MARY RAUTO
Thursday, March 05, 2009

A TRADE unionist has reiterated his call for interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama to tell the people what he wants before he allows the country to go to elections.

Fiji Islands Congress of Trade Unions general secretary Attar Singh says the latest comments by Mr Bainimarama, defying CMAG "demonstrates very clearly the kind of regime we are dealing with.

"To the IG (interim government), no one else knows better. Neither the local critics, nor the PIF and CMAG. Only they, the IG has monopoly on wisdom.

"From this outburst one can safely conclude that the PPDF will also be an exercise in futility."

Be appreciative, CCF tells Bainimarama
Thursday, March 05, 2009

Citizen's Constitutional Forum has called on interim Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama to respect CMAG's "progressive" decision.

CCF CEO Reverend Akuila Yabaki welcomed the decision saying the Commonwealth has shown support for Fiji to find a permanent end to the 'coup culture' and lasting sustainable constitutional democracy.

He said Mr Bainimarama should appreciate the Commonwealth's undertaking because the wide-ranging good governance reforms proposed in the People's Charter cannot be realised without the assistance of expert bodies.

"The Commonwealth, through its support for the President's Political Dialogue Forum (PPDF) process, has again prioritised the use of non-violent methods to resolve the countrys long-standing problems," he said.

"The CMAG decision stresses that the Commonwealth and UN's support for the PPDF should be independent, inclusive, time-bound and without prejudice to its outcome.

"Bainimarama should welcome the call by CMAG that urges all Commonwealth member countries and others in the international community to support this mediation process politically and financially," said Mr Yabaki.


No further delay, assures Bainimarama
Thursday, March 05, 2009

INTERIM Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama has welcomed the "positives" in the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group's decision on Fiji, but reiterates that no election deadline can be set unless certain prerequisites are sorted.

He also assured that there would be no further delay in getting the Leaders of Political Parties (LOPP) meet, and the subsequent President's Political Dialogue Forum underway.

In a statement issued two hours ago, the Commodore, in a more amiable tone compared to his earlier remarks reportedly made to New Zealands Radio Tarana this morning, said his government was not surprised with CMAG's stand as it was consistent with the stand taken by the Pacific Islands Forum.

One of the "few positives" he singled out was the CMAG's recognition of the work being done on the "restoration of genuine parliamentary governance".

He offered that the scheduled LOPP meet next Friday was "a concrete and substantive example" of his administration's commitment to restoring genuine democracy.

"I expect a consensus to emerge following our discussions involving all key stakeholders in this process," he said.

"Following the meeting of LOPP on 13 March, I anticipate that the PPDF will get underway without further delay."

Earlier in the day, Commodore Bainimarama told Radio Tarana that the Commonwealth should proceed to suspend Fiji because his position on the need for electoral reforms before the next general election remained unchanged.




CMAG draws line in the sand
Thursday, March 05, 2009

NEW Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister, Murray McCully, described the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Groups decision to give Fiji a September deadline for a move towards elections as a rare move.

"This is a very rare event fortunately, but were dealing with a fairly recalcitrant player here," he said. "There's been every conceivable attempt made to offer reason and support but finally, a line had to be drawn in the sand."

Fiji must specify an election date by May 1, he told NZPA.

Mr McCully said the CMAG decision was one that was likely to get a hostile reaction from Fiji's military leader Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama.

But he said there was little choice after a string of broken promises.

New Zealand and Papua New Guinea are two members of the Pacific Islands Forum represented on CMAG.

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