Monday, May 31, 2010

P I Forum ‘Important to Return to Democracy’

Fiji Live News - May 31, 2010 

Fiji’s Foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola has today described the Pacific Islands Forum as an important regional partner for Fiji's return to parliamentary democracy, a statement from the regional body said.

The statement was issued followed a meeting in Auckland, New Zealand today of the Forum’s Ministerial Contact Group (MCG) on Fiji, where Kubuabola made a presentation on developments in Fiji.

The statement said Kubuabola expressed a commitment to maintaining engagement with the Forum.

The meeting was part of continuing efforts by the Forum to engage with Fiji authorities.

The MCG was chaired by Tonga’s Prime Minister Feleti Sevele. 

The other participants were Australia’s Foreign Minister Stephen Smith and his counterparts from New Zealand, Murray McCully, Papua New Guinea, Samuel Abal, and ministers from Samoa and Tuvalu.

Sevele said he was pleased with the “constructive and cordial nature” of the discussions. 

The MCG received a report on Fiji from the Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum. 

The MCG expressed concern at the political and economic challenges facing Fiji but there was a clear commitment from all ministers to continue to offer Fiji the Forum's assistance in addressing its challenges, the statement said.

MCG members highlighted the importance of Fiji establishing an inclusive and open political dialogue process in order to advance sustainable progress back to parliamentary democracy.

Sevele said the MCG was interested in visiting Fiji to engage the full range of Fiji stakeholders as they had twice in 2008. 

The statement said he welcomed the invitation from Kubuabola for such a visit at a time to be determined by mutual agreement. The MCG will be reporting to Forum Leaders in advance of their next meeting in Port Vila from 3-6 August 2010 as mandated by the Leaders' January 2009 Port Moresby Special Retreat meeting.

“Although suspended by leaders from the Forum for reasons which remain entirely valid, Fiji continues to be an important regional partner and it is essential for all of us, including Fiji, to seek constructive engagement in the broader interests of all the people of the Pacific,” Sevele said.

“While significant differences remain between Fiji and the rest of the Forum membership, the MCG provides an important mechanism to pursue a constructive two-way dialogue with Fiji aimed at resolving our differences and assisting its return to full parliamentary democracy.”

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