Commonwealth Endorses Forum call for Fiji to Progress Return to Democracy - RePress

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Tuesday, September 30

Commonwealth Endorses Forum call for Fiji to Progress Return to Democracy

The New Zealand Government representative on the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group, Phil Goff, today welcomed CMAG's reaffirmation of its strong support for the Pacific Islands Forum government in Fiji.

It is hoped that this will achieve the restoration of democratic and constitutional legitimate government to Fiji.

"The Commonwealth has made its support clear for the Forum roadmap to return legitimate government to Fiji. The Forum in Niue has earlier expressed its support for the Commonwealth-led process of independent and inclusive political dialogue to be advanced," Phil Goff said from New York.

"The two organisations are clearly working in a complementary way to see the situation in Fiji resolved."

Phil Goff said two Forum members, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, were represented on CMAG and this helped to ensure that other members of the CMAG group were informed of the recent discussions in the Forum aimed at assisting Fiji back to democratic government.

"Papua New Guinea's Minister of Foreign Affairs Sam Abal and I were able to update CMAG colleagues at todays meeting in New York on the recent discussions among Forum Leaders in Niue and to highlight the viable ‘exit strategy' the Niue Communiqué roadmap provides to assist the Fiji interim government and political stakeholders within Fiji to resolve the current impasse.

"It is very clear that the interim government's efforts to pursue electoral and constitutional change in Fiji through its People's Charter initiative are meeting with significant opposition, not just because there is no consensus at this stage on electoral or constitutional changes within Fiji, but also because it is increasingly recognised that only a legitimately elected government can pursue such changes.

"The only viable way through the current situation is to proceed to advance preparations for an election under the current Constitution, and at the same time pursue parallel efforts at political dialogue between the interim government and political stakeholders," Phil Goff said

"This political dialogue process can provide the clarity required to enable an election to occur. This includes agreement on a post-election framework for further discussions to resolve the constitutional and broader issues of national reconciliation that the December 2006 coup and its aftermath have highlighted."

Phil Goff said New Zealandwould continue to work within the Forum and the Commonwealth to encourage the Fijiinterim government to engage constructively on both election preparations and an appropriate political dialogue process.

"A visit to Fiji by the Forum Ministerial Contact Group before the end of the year may provide an opportunity for constructive discussions between Ministers from the region and the interim government that would highlight the significant risks that the continuation of the current situation presents for Fiji's future, both internally as well as within the region. I therefore welcome the recent announcement that the Fijiinterim government is agreeable to a visit by the Contact Group before the end of the year.

"All of our efforts on Fijiare guided by our deep concern about the impact that coups have had on Fijians. For more than 20 years now, the people of Fiji- both indigenous Fijians and Indo-Fijians - have suffered through successive coups. There is a growing realisation within Fijithat a more durable and stable Fijiwill only be able to emerge if interim government reflects further on its current direction," Phil Goff said.

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