May 03, 2009

The Illegal Government Responds to PIF Suspension

Acting (Illegal) Prime Minister and Attorney-General Mr Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum
Statement in response to Fiji’s suspension from the Pacific Islands Forum
Saturday, 2 May 2, 2009

The statement by the Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum that the Government of Fiji has been suspended from the Forum is regrettable.

It is regrettable for a number of reasons.

The announcement was made via a press statement without any formal notification by the Forum. It was only at the prompting of the Government that a diplomatic note was received this morning at approximately 11.10am.

It is apparent that despite our Prime Minister writing to the Chair, highlighting the change in dynamics in Fiji vis a vis the new legal order; the fact that elections cannot and should not be held under a skewered electoral system; and Fiji’s willingness to engage with the Forum taking into account the facts and ground realities; the Forum and its Chair have chosen to ignore the circumstances in Fiji and the willingness of our Government, the willingness of Fiji to engage in a constructive and meaningful manner.

The statement also falsely refers to so called breaches of basic human rights, democracy and freedom under a military regime. Again such inaccurate statements do not lend credibility to the analysis and conclusions arrived at by the Chair.

Such inaccuracies and holding on to dogma begs the question whether the Forum is holding on to particular ideas, ideas that are factually incorrect. They appear to be based on representations made by only a few with political agendas and are reflective of the positions taken by the metropolitan powers in Wellington and Canberra.

The untenable proposition that elections should be held at any cost immediately, even under a flawed system is not only patronizing but demonstrates a lack of commitment to true democracy and sustainable parliamentary representation.

The purported suspension of the Prime Minister, Ministers and officials from all meetings and arrangements by the Forum and stopping Fiji from benefiting from any new financial and technical assistance is short sighted. What this in effect means is that Fiji and her people are being targeted. To claim that the suspension is only targeted to the officials and the ministers is a fallacy.

As to the actual ramifications of the ceasing of new financial and technical assistance, the Government shall carry out its own assessments and source alternative arrangements. We have access to countries and multilateral agencies that may wish to provide assistance to fill in any void.

Such a suspension of course is unprecedented for the Forum. Fiji, following the 1987 coups did not have elections for 5 years yet there was no suspension. The rationale behind the overthrow of the Bavadra government and the subsequent actions of the then new government were most dubious to say the least. Yet there was no suspension.

In contrast this Government has an agenda of reforms that are based on universally accepted principles and values, of equal citizenry, equal suffrage, eradication of systemic corruption and transparency but paradoxically the Forum hierarchy has chosen to suspend Fiji.

This punitive action of suspension poses a challenge to the Pacific spirit and Pacific Way. The Pacific value for inclusiveness and understanding is now under threat by the actions of the Forum. It is hoped that the Forum and the individual members have taken into account the ramifications on Pacific co-operation and solidarity.

The position of the Government of Fiji is that it is a government appointed by His Excellency our President. It is not a military regime. It has an agenda to carry out reforms, including electoral reforms. It shall hold elections by September 2014. Its reforms shall be guided by the Peoples Charter. It is committed to and shall continue to implement policies to eradicate systemic corruption. It shall engage with all countries based on respect, dignity and co-operation. It shall liberalize the economy to rid the system of years of neglect, to create better investment and employment opportunities – all, with the view to ensure that the citizens of Fiji benefit by way of lifting their living standards, providing better health and education facilities and accessibility and sustainable livelihoods. The Government shall not be deterred from any of its objectives even in the face of adversity, created by some.

The Government and the people of Fiji have very strong ties with our brothers and sisters in the Pacific. No such suspension can sever those ties. Fiji is part of the Pacific and the Pacific is part of Fiji.

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