Thursday, April 09, 2009

SDL opts out of key Fiji political meet

SDL opts out of key Fiji political meet - 09/04/2009

Fiji’s largest political party, the Soqosoqo Duavata Ni Lewenivanua Party (SDL) will not be attending the third meeting of political leaders today, party leader and ousted Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase has confirmed.This follow the party’s rejection of conditions set out in a letter it received Tuesday from interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama.Qarase told Fijilive the party would not attend today’s meeting because it could not agree to the conditions set out by Bainimarama in his letter.The letter was sent to the SDL, the National Federation Party (NFP), United Peoples Party (UPP) and the Nationalist Vanua Takolavo Party. Bainimarama said in his letter that these political parties could attend today's talks if they agreed to four pre-conditions - that electoral reforms do away with the communal voting system, not to interfere with national efforts to meet economic challenges, not to work with partisan media outlets, and commit to expediting the political process with honesty.Qarase said the parties were told to respond “positively” by 4pm yesterday.“This is a serious set back for the country, locally as well as on the international scene. We represent more than half the population of Fiji and we not being in the dialogue will see the voices of those people not heard,” he said.He said the SDL would continue to voice its opinions through other means.Meanwhile, NFP president Raman Pratap Singh said the party would be represented at the meeting in Nasova today.NFP and SDL were the only two parties that had sent their replies by yesterday afternoon.UPP’s Mick Beddoes could not be reached for a comment.The third meeting of the political parties is scheduled to begin this morning in Nasova. Among other things, the meeting will discuss the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) and Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) and its statements on Fiji.
Other items on the agenda include:
• proposed objectives of the President’s Political Dialogue Forum (PPDF);
• the composition of the UN/Commonwealth Mediation Team;
• proposed principles for mediation support from the UN and Commonwealth;
• civil society membership of PPDF; and• civil society engagement.

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