March 17, 2007

The pulse of the Pacific on Fiji

Isa Lei ragone!!

My heart almost skipped a beat when I watched the news last night because makubuna's my heart was sooo bursting with pride to be part of the Pacific Island family today.

Vinaka Vakalevu Pacific Island Forum leaders for respecting the views of Fijians like me who do not want this self-imposed (and illegal) government, while helplessly unable to do anything about it.

Vinaka Vakalevu for promoting human rights and the rule of law even if from the outside. Despite what detractors lament about inconsistencies on your home soil, the key missing part of their argument is the fact that your own citizens HAVE democratic processes in place with which to remedy excesses of the state—otherwise they just take it to the polls. We appear to have no separation of powers of the State.

Makubuna's there a story on the New Zealand Herald website that says the Forum has demanded that Fiji holds elections by August next year.

NZ Foreign Minister Winston Peters said: "I think the Fijian interim government knows that the international community means business, and so does the forum."

"The decision taken today means, in effect, that they will be requested to have elections by August 2008."

Read more about that on the NZHerald site.

For my makubuna's who would like to read for yourself exactly what the Pacific Island Leaders said, it is available on-line here:

…and also reproduced for your ease of reference below:

__________

The following message is from Forum Secretariat:

The Press Statements section on the Forum Secretariat Website has been updated.

Title : Forum Foreign Ministers Meeting Outcome

Content :

PRESS STATEMENTS:

16 March 2007

PIFS(07)FFAMM.3

FORUM FOREIGN AFFAIRS MINISTERS' MEETING

16 March 2007

Port Vila , Vanuatu

OUTCOME STATEMENT

1. The Ministers for Foreign Affairs of the Pacific Islands Forum met in Port Vila, Vanuatu on 16 March 2007 to discuss the situation in Fiji and consider the Forum's response, under the Biketawa Declaration, to the actions of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces (RFMF) and the Fiji interim government. The meeting was chaired by the Hon Paul Tiensten, Minister for Foreign Affairs & Trade of Papua New Guinea, and was attended by the Prime Minister of Samoa, the Premier of Niue and Ministers from Australia, the Cook Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. A delegation led by the Interim Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade of Fiji attended in order to brief Ministers. Ministers expressed their appreciation to the Government of Vanuatu for hosting the meeting.

2. Ministers received a report from the Chair of the Forum Eminent Persons' Group (EPG) on the Group's visit to Fiji from 29 January to 1 February 2007, and endorsed its recommendations (attached) as a way forward to the restoration of constitutional and democratic government in Fiji. Ministers also received a presentation from the Fiji interim government in response to the EPG Report (attached).

3. Ministers reiterated their profound concern that the takeover of Government by the RFMF was unconstitutional and unacceptable. Ministers urged Fiji to expedite a return to parliamentary democracy as soon as possible. Ministers noted Fiji's 36 month time frame for a national election, its desire to return to democracy as soon as possible and its willingness to give consideration to a new timeline. Ministers affirmed the EPG's recommendation that the interim government should commit to a firm timetable for a national election which in the EPG's view should be held in between 18 months and 2 years, if not sooner.

4. Ministers agreed that the Forum should commence a staged process of engagement with the interim government to that end. Ministers agreed to recommend to Forum Leaders that on the basis of commitments and demonstrable progress by the interim government to the immediate cessation of human rights abuses and a roadmap back to democracy, a phased package of financial and technical assistance would be offered to Fiji including support for the electoral process, assistance for the establishment of a credible and independent anti-corruption commission, and assistance to restore and maintain the independence of the judiciary.

5. Ministers agreed that the Eminent Persons' Group should remain constituted to advance the matters covered by its report. Depending on the willingness of the Fiji interim authorities to participate in the process, the Forum could move to the establishment of a joint working group of officials from Member countries, with Fiji, to engage with the interim government including on credible mechanisms for returning to democracy as soon as possible. The joint working group would report to the EPG. Ministers invited the EPG to report to them on progress in approximately three months' time

6. Ministers requested the Secretary General to write to Forum Leaders informing them of these recommendations.

7. Ministers noted the statements and actions by the United Nations, the Commonwealth and several Post-Forum Dialogue Partners in response to developments in Fiji. Ministers reiterated their call on the international community to continue to identify what actions could be taken to support the restoration of constitutional and democratic governance in Fiji. Forum members were also encouraged to take bilateral actions in support of the recommendations agreed to by Ministers.

Forum Secretariat

Port Vila , Vanuatu

16 March 2007


Annex A

RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE

2007 FORUM EMINENT PERSONS' GROUP TO FIJI

i. A firm restatement be made that, in the Forum's view, the takeover of Government by the RFMF on 5 December was unconstitutional and unacceptable;

ii. The RFMF should be called on to take immediate steps to withdraw from its involvement in the interim government with a view to restoring civilian rule as soon as possible, these steps to include the following:

    • the RFMF should return to barracks;
    • the Commander of the RFMF should vacate the position of interim Prime Minister and a civilian should be appointed to the post;
    • the State of Emergency should be lifted.

iii. The interim government should be called on to restrict its activities as follows:

    • the interim government should uphold the 1997 Constitution and interim decrees should be restricted in purpose and scope to matters necessary to meet the basic requirements of the community;
    • the interim government should respect and uphold Fiji's domestic and international obligations and, bearing in mind the regional implications of recent events, take full account of the views of Fiji's regional neighbours and the wider international community on the importance of Parliamentary Democracy and Constitutionality;
    • the interim government (and the RFMF) should immediately cease all interference with the Judiciary and accountable institutions, the Chief Justice should be reinstated to office;
    • the interim government (and the RFMF) should ensure citizens are free to seek legal redress in the courts in relation to the events on and following 5 December, and should be prepared to comply with any decisions of the courts in this regard.

iv. The interim government should be called on to commit without delay to a roadmap with measurable milestones which includes the following:

    • the interim government should commit to a firm timeframe for a national election (in the EPG's view this should be between eighteen months and two years, if not sooner);
    • the interim government should de-link the election timetable from its clean up campaign except in those areas directly related to the electoral process;

v. The Forum should call on the interim government and the RFMF to immediately cease human rights abuses.

vi. On the basis of commitments made by the interim government in regard to a roadmap and cessation of human rights abuses, the Forum should consider a phased package of assistance including:

    • financial and technical support for the electoral process;
    • financial and technical assistance for the establishment of a credible and independent anti-corruption commission;
    • assistance to restore the independence of the Judiciary.

vii. If the interim government chooses not to commit to a roadmap along these lines, and take the suggested steps, the Forum should consider further options.

viii. Judging from the reception given the EPG, and the overtures made for the Forum to engage in substantive dialogue to assist in the return to democracy, the EPG or a variant thereof, should remain in being and continue further dialogue in a closely engaged and phased manner.

ix. The next democratically elected government of Fiji should be encouraged to examine the roots of Fiji's 'coup culture' and the steps that need to be taken to eradicate it.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

A clear indication that the Forum knows Frank, his Military Council, and their motives far better than any of them would care to admit!

Whodat said...

Amen to that! Thank God that behind-the-scenes diplomatic deal-making and "dog-in-the-manger" churlishness about sovereignty issues did not get in the way of common sense and the fundamental principles of international and constitutional law. The Commander and his cronies have always had a "groupthink" mentality where independent views and voices have always been banished from his inner circle. Hopefully now they will be able to see that you can only deal with independant views like that for so long. Because eventually (as we are seeing now with the Forum/EPG) you're going to have to deal with reality and independant opinions in some way other than just intimidating or banishing them!

Randominanity said...

Unfortunately while the words were strong, the actions are not. Will the Commodore and his regime bow to the pressure of the Forum? The cynic in me says no. Because of his actions Bainimarama has to hold power for as long as he can, or at least manipulate a situation where his supporters hold political office. That's the only way he can protect himself from potential prosecution.

La rage said...

Thank you for this article. I wasn't surprised at all at the firm stand taken by the Pacific Forum Leaders. I'm pleased with their demand that Fiji holds national elections by mid 2008 if not sooner! In the meantime, I'd like to see MORE smart sanctions, a tiny example is wider travel ban on the military, the interim administration and their families to or transitting through any Pacific Island Forum country.

Having said that, I'm also interested on your take on the shocking findings that hve come to light in recent days i.e. FNPF/Natadola project scandal as well as the 2003 SPG $3m unaccounted for of taxpayers money. Whilst these revelations does not justify the illegal takeover of 5/12, it does warrant IMMEDIATE explanations from those implicated!

I am shocked and outraged at the $60m given away by the ousted FNPF board (and thank God they're gone!) hard earned money by the workers of this country with almost NOTHING to show for it!! How does a person like Keni Dakuidreketi command an $8m fee for just 'managing' the natadola project? The project apparently hasn't even gotten off the ground and he admits on national television last night that he has received $4.3m already! Calculations reveal that his investment company APRIL receives $8,000 A DAY, which is what most workers in this country e.g. nurses EARN IN A YEAR! Of course he did say that they have a legal binding contract with the ousted FNPF board. But what a hogwash!! At best, the contract is unconscionable and downright obscene! I'm so disgusted at the level of corruption that's coming to light. Good work Felix Anthony!

VoxPop said...

Wasn't major Leweni supposed to talk to the press today and give them a comment? Why the delay? Is there a problem? How long does it take for Frank to make up ANOTHER lie?

Vox Populi said...

Now Bainimarama plays for time. How boring. How predictable!

Anonymous said...

i think Baini will be ther until he dies! that tells us that he doesn't want to face the consequence while on earth, he doesn't want to be judged on earth where he will serve prison terms, repent and be be forgiven, but he wants to be judged after death where he won't be given any mercy but will be told "GO TO HELL"

Anonymous said...

Y is Major Leweni's eyes REED all the time? Does he gets enough sleep? Being interviewed regularly by the Media has helped in improving Leweni's english! but only a little bit!

Anonymous said...

Can we all join hands! with one voice we all SHOUT against the Army and the Interim Regime! Lets tell them that we do not support them!

Anonymous said...

if Bainmarama doesn't tkae a time to check and rwead articles in this website, can anybody tell him this? "Do you ever think about wot u doing, do you ever try to think of the peoples views, or u r just doing it coz somebody is screwing you from behind with alot of cash?"

Anonymous said...

Great to see the forum standing firm on democratic principles that have made countries like NZ, Aust, USA, Britain, France, Belgium such wonderful places to live in. For Fiji right now, we have to go by what Voreqe feels. Today one thing, tomorrow another. That is no way to run a country and think it will prosper. Right now, they doing the witch hunt thing and telling us what they want us to believe. They think we are children and did not trust us the way we voted. Why should we trust them? Thank you Forum. We the silent people of Fiji need you to stick to your guns.