Sunday, April 12, 2009

Commonwealth deplores abrogation of Fiji's constitution

Commonwealth deplores abrogation of Fiji's constitution
London (PTI):
The Commonwealth has deplored the abrogation of the Fiji's constitution by President Ratu Josefa Iloilo, describing it as a retrograde step that would take the South Pacific archipelago away from the return to civilian democracy.

"The abrogation of the Constitution, the dismissal of the judiciary and the postponement?of elections until 2014 are retrograde steps which take Fiji further away from the return to civilian constitutional democratic rule which the Commonwealth had been urging," Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma said.

He said that latest developments in Fiji are a breach of fundamental association's political values and Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) will convene a meeting as soon as possible to discuss the situation. "These unwelcome developments are a clear new breach of fundamental Commonwealth political values and are unacceptable. These developments strike at the root of the rule of law, which is the cornerstone of the values supported by the Commonwealth," Sharma said.

"The Foreign Ministers on the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group will now?be consulted to determine the timing of a CMAG meeting as soon as practicable," he added.
On Thursday, Fiji Court of Appeal declared the appointment of the Interim Government, led by Commodore Vorege Bainimarama, to be unlawful and advised the President to appoint a caretaker Prime Minister to take the country to elections. Earlier, the Secretary-General in his statement on the judgement of the Court of Appeal has asked the military and political leaders in Fiji to act with respect for the rule of law.

"Very sadly and regrettably, the spirit and intent of the Fiji Court of Appeal judgement have not been honoured, and instead a new period of uncertainty and delay has been created," Sharma said. "I encourage the leadership of Fiji, and in particular the security services, to demonstrate the utmost respect for human rights in the current situation of constitutional and political uncertainty," he said.

"The constitutional rule of law must be re-established as a priority along with elections as envisaged by the Court of Appeal," the Secretary-General added. He said that commonwealth is ready to assist Fiji in restoration of democracy in Fiji. "The Commonwealth is always ready to assist with constitutional, legal, and other expertise required to support peaceful constitutional democracy in any member country. Its restoration is the right of all Fijians," he said.

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