Monday, March 28, 2011

Calls for Fijian democracy will be vigorous - Rudd

Posted on Otago Daily Times - 27 March 2011
Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd says trans-Tasman  diplomacy calling for democracy in Fiji will continue to be    vigorous.The Pacific nation has faced diplomatic pressure since the  military took control in a 2006 coup, including suspension from the Commonwealth and the Pacific Islands Forum and   sanctions by countries including the United States, Australia  and New Zealand.
Mr Rudd said there was often a tendency to focus on what Australian and New Zealand diplomacy should be doing, rather than putting the onus on Commodore Frank Bainimarama’s  military regime.
“It actually buys into a Bainimarama assumption that the  problem lies with the rest of us rather than with the  Bainimarama regime,” he told TVNZ’s Q and A programme.
“That is, what is it that’s wrong with Australian and New Zealand diplomacy that we have somehow failed in the      Bainimarama test of causing him to conclude that it is not  right to sack your entire judiciary … that it is not right to close down the media, that it is not right to suspend  elections?
“Bainimarama is the one who must change here, and therefore if we were to so compromise and say, ‘That’s okay, only if  you have half a coup’, that is unacceptable.”
Mr Rudd said Australia and New Zealand were “doing a lot” in pushing for freedom of expression in Fiji, and diplomacy      would continue to be active.
“It will continue to be vigorous in engaging the Fijian regime. We’re not in the business of legitimising what has  been a very ugly military coup,” he said.
“The reverse is that Bainimarama must change if he is to  adhere to the standards and the norms of the Pacific Islands Forum, the standards and the norms of the Commonwealth of   Nations, the standards and the norms of the United Nations.”
New Zealand Foreign Minister Mr McCully last month said there had been little progress toward the resumption of democracy in Fiji, following a meeting of the Pacific Islands Forum’s  ministerial contact group.
“The foreign leaders spelled out a very clear position on the restoration of democracy and the report that we are obliged  to make in that respect is that we’re not yet in a position to recommend any change in policy,” he told NZPA.
Read about Torturer Penioni Naliva

Human rights organisation Amnesty International said earlier this month that the Fijian military had been arbitrarily arresting political opponents, and at least 10 people had  been targeted and subjected to torture and beatings.

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