Tuesday, October 25, 2011

CHOGM Presents Avenue for Fresh Approach on Fiji, says CCF

Posted on Indian Weekender 25 October 2011
The Commonwealth Heads of Governments meeting starting Friday in Perth presents an ideal opportunity for Australia and New Zealand governments to adopt a fresh and creative approach to engaging the Bainimarama government, says a Fiji pro-democracy group

The Citizens’ Constitutional Forum has written to the Commonwealth Secretariat to bring to their attention issues for discuss on the possible way forward in ensuring a return to democratic rule in our island nation.

“CCF believes that the Commonwealth Secretariat can play a significant and strategic role in Fiji’s return to Democratic Elections through engagement especially in the area of Political Dialogue as a precursor to the Constitution work and the provision of technical and or financial support towards the electoral reform and the elections itself,” chief executive Reverend Akuila Yabaki said.


“The Commonwealth body, through CMAG and or the Commonwealth Special envoy could find avenues to instigate the dialogue process through consultation with all relevant stakeholders and the Bainimarama government.


“This process is vital to ensure that the Constitutional and Electoral reforms which the current regime plans to undertake is inclusive and reflects what the people want in the lead-up to elections.”


Rev Yabaki said the Commonwealth Heads of Government, through the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group, must consider taking on a more creative role in the solution through dialogue.


“This presents a significant opportunity for Australia and New Zealand to find creative options to re-engage with Fiji, if the two nations want to have any influence on Fiji’s path to democratic elections.


“The issue of engaging with Fiji must not be dictated by policies based on concerns over China’s growing influence in the region but on the genuine desire to engage for the people of Fiji and the movement towards Sustainable constitutional democracy.”


“If they are to remain rigid as they have been and refuse to work with the current regime, then it should acknowledge the entry options available through the work of active civil society organizations, who are striving to change mindsets at the grassroots level by educating people on human rights, good governance, multiculturalism and citizenship and preparing them for elections in 2014.


“CCF believes that prolonged isolationist approach will not augur well for the people of Fiji as there is growing anxiety amongst the general populous on whether the international community genuinely seeks to assist in restoring democratic rule in Fiji.


“It must also be acknowledged that Fiji is a key player in the direction regional politics sways on issues of Trade, Telecommunication, Security and Foreign relations. As it stands the Pacific Islands Forum is missing the presence of Fiji who at the basic framework of relations is an influential actor. Regional development with the exclusion of Fiji will only lead to a fragmented Pacific.

“We hope that the issues and concerns are given serious consideration by all the member states and that the hope of the late Sir Paul Reeves in finding a Pacific solution for Fiji is realised sooner than later,” Rev Yabaki said.

“We also convey the hope of the people of Fiji that the members consider their commitment to regional peace and security is one that will benefit the individuals and the ordinary citizens ultimately.”
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