Saturday, August 01, 2009

Fiji Faces Full Suspension from Commonwealth

Saturday 01 August 2009

The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group has told the interim regime it has until September the first to commit to holding free and fair parliamentary elections and return Fiji to democracy by October 2010. The CMAG says failure to follow through with this directive will result in Fiji facing full suspension from the Commonwealth next month.
The group held an extraordinary meeting in London last night. The meeting was chaired by Malaysia's Foreign Affairs Minister, Datuk Anifah Aman and was held in accordance with the principles of the Harare Declaration, the Millbrook Action Programme and the CMAG's own earlier resolutions on Fiji. The meeting was consistent with the CMAG's previous meeting in early March just before the regime abrogated the 1997 Constitution and derailed the President's Political Dialogue Forum - a process that had the support of the Commonwealth Secretariat and the United Nations as a legitimate means of finding a way forward from the December 2006 military coup.
The meeting noted that the Pacific Islands Forum had suspended Fiji on May the second. As a result, Fiji will not participate in Forum for the first time in its history when Forum Leaders meet in Cairns, Australia, next week. The meeting will also be attended by Commonwealth Secretary-General, Kamlesh Sharma, who has been invited by Australia's Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd. The key decisions that came out of last night's CMAG meeting are as follows:
1) Should the regime fail to make sufficient progress to return Fiji to democracy, Fiji would be fully be suspended from the Commonwealth at the CMAG's next scheduled meeting in September 2009.
2) The CMAG noted Fiji's worsening situation with regard to the serious deterioration of fundamental Commonwealth values and deplored the abrogation of the Constitution, further entrenchment of authoritarian rule outside of the Constitution and the rule of law, on-going violation of human rights including freedom of speech and assembly, arbitrary detention of opponents to the military regime, and undermining of the judiciary and legal system.
3) The CMAG noted the regime's withdrawal of cooperation with the Commonwealth and the United Nations on the proposed President's Political Dialogue Process (PPDF) and the effective abandonment of that pocess.
4) The CMAG urged the regime to immediately re-activate the PPDF to be facilitated by the Commonwealth Secretariat and the UN and stressed that such Dialogue must be independent, inclusive, time-bound and without any pre-determined outcome, and lead to credibile elections in the countrey no later than October 2010.
5) The CMAG urged the regime to state its firm commitment to reactivating the PPDF as indicated in its terms above by no later than September 1, 2009, in writing to the Commonwealth Secretary-General.
6) In the absence of sch confirmation, Fiji will be fully suspended by that date. But should a positive response be received from the regime, the CMAG has authorised its Chair (Datuk Anifaf Aman) and Secretary-General (Kamlesh Sharma) to consult on engagement with the regime and furnish a report to its next meeting in New York on September the 26th, 2009.
Last night's CMAG meeting also took note of a joint statement from ousted Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase and former interim Finance Minister, Mahendra Chaudhry, as well as a letter from the ousted Opposition Leader, Mick Beddoes.Editor's Note: See below for the CMAG's statement on the meeting.
Posted by Pacific in the Media


The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), which held an extraordinary meeting in London yesterday, has released a statement on Fiji.The Action Group addresses serious or persistent violations of the Commonwealth's fundamental political values and has, again, urged Fiji to return to democracy as quickly as possible - saying it faces further sanctions if it doesn't.
1. The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group on the Harare Declaration (CMAG) held an extraordinary meeting in London on 31 July 2009. The Meeting was chaired by Hon Datuk Anifah Aman, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia. It was also attended by H.E. Alhaji Muhammad Mumuni, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ghana; Hon Marco Hausiku, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Namibia; Hon Murray McCully, Minister of Foreign Affairs of New Zealand; Hon Samuel T. Abal, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Immigration of Papua New Guinea; Hon Rohitha Bogollagama, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka; Hon Rufus George Bousquet, Minister of External Affairs of St Lucia; Hon Sam Kutesa, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Uganda; and Mr Ivan Lewis, Minister of State in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, United Kingdom.
2. CMAG received a written communication from the Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum, Hon Toke Talagi, Premier of Niue.
3. The Group also received with appreciation a briefing from the High Commissioner of Fiji to the United Kingdom, H E Mr Pio Bosco Tikoisuva.
4. CMAG further received and took note of a Joint Statement dated 24 July 2009 made by two former Prime Ministers of Fiji, Mr Laisenia Qarase and Mr Mahendra Chaudhry, as well as a letter from Mr Mick Beddoes, Leader of the Opposition in the last parliament of Fiji.
5. CMAG recalled that, at its previous meeting on 4 March 2009, it had deplored the fact that Fiji remained in contravention of Commonwealth values and principles; that CMAG’s call for the Interim Government to adhere to its March 2009 deadline for holding elections had not been heeded; and that the Interim Government had not indicated an alternative date for elections. It further recalled that, at that meeting, CMAG had reaffirmed that the engagement of the Commonwealth in Fiji should continue to be directed at protecting and promoting the fundamental values and principles of the Commonwealth, in the interests of the people of Fiji.
6. The Group further recalled its decision in March that, should sufficient progress not be made by Fiji towards a return to democracy, Fiji would be fully suspended from the Commonwealth at the Group’s next regularly scheduled meeting in September 2009.
7. The Group noted that Fiji’s situation with regard to fundamental Commonwealth values had deteriorated strikingly since March. It deplored the President’s purported abrogation of the Constitution on 10 April 2009, the further entrenchment of authoritarian rule in Fiji outside the Constitution and the rule of law, the ongoing violation of human rights including freedom of speech and assembly, arbitrary detention of opponents of the military regime, and the undermining of the independence of the judiciary and legal system. CMAG also deplored the intention of the Fiji regime to further delay the return to democracy by more than five years.
8. In relation to Commonwealth engagement with Fiji, CMAG expressed its deep regret at the Fiji regime’s withdrawal of cooperation with the Commonwealth and UN on the proposed President’s Political Dialogue Forum (PPDF) and the effective abandonment of that process.
9. CMAG noted the decision by leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum to suspend Fiji from participation in the Forum as of 2 May 2009.
10. CMAG urged the Fiji regime to immediately reactivate the President’s Political Dialogue Forum process, facilitated by the Commonwealth and the United Nations. CMAG stressed that such a Dialogue must be independent, inclusive, time-bound and without any pre-determined outcome, and lead to credible elections in the country no later than October 2010.
11. CMAG urged the Fiji regime to state its firm commitment to reactivating the PPDF as indicated in the terms outlined in paragraph 10 above, by no later than 1 September 2009, in writing to the Commonwealth Secretary-General. In the absence of such confirmation, Fiji will be fully suspended on that date. CMAG authorised the Chair and the Secretary-General to consult on engagement with the Fiji regime should a positive response be received, and to furnish a report to CMAG’s next meeting in New York on 26 September 2009.
12. Consistent with the provisions of the Millbrook Action Programme and CMAG’s own earlier statements, the Group reaffirmed the importance of continued engagement by the Commonwealth with Fiji, in pursuit of its entrusted responsibility to support the restoration of constitutional democracy in that country and protecting and promoting human rights and the welfare of the people of Fiji.ommonwealth Secretary-General and comprises the Foreign Ministers of nine Commonwealth member countries – currently Ghana, Malaysia (Chair), Namibia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, St Lucia, Sri Lanka, Uganda (Deputy Chair) and the United Kingdom.

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