Pacific ministers concerned at Fiji developments
Ministers from the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) expressed concern about the Fiji military regime's recent actions Friday and stressed elections scheduled to be held next year must be free and fair.
- Published: 12/04/2013 at 11:49 PM
- Newspaper section: news
A soldier stands guard outside government buildings in Suva, December 5, 2006. Ministers from the Pacific Islands Forum expressed concern about the Fiji military regime's recent actions Friday and stressed elections scheduled to be held next year must be free and fair.
A ministerial contact group led by New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully visited the Pacific nation for the first time since May last year to assess progress towards holding the first popular vote since a coup in 2006.
The group said much work had been done but noted the regime of military leader Voreqe Bainimarama had failed to stick to an agreed "roadmap" to democracy.
"Ministers expressed concerns about departures from Fiji's previously announced roadmap process and emphasised the need for a constitution-building process that enjoyed the support of the people of Fiji and the respect of the international community," they said in a statement.
The PIF suspended Fiji in 2009 after Bainimarama failed to honour a vow to hold elections.
Last month, he scrapped plans to hold an assembly to review a proposed new constitution, saying he wanted opinions directly from the people since opposition parties could not be trusted.
It followed his ditching in January of a draft constitution prepared by an academic panel in favour of a version prepared by the regime.
The original draft, never officially released, was believed to have called for the military, a key player in the four coups the Pacific nation has endured since 1987, to stay out of politics after the 2014 elections.
In February the government issued a decree imposing restrictions on political parties and 14 of the 17 opposition parties were deregistered.
McCully said the PIF ministers held "very professional constructive discussions" with members of Bainimarama's government.
"Look this is a long road, the elections are a long (way) away, well over a year," he said.
"There is a lot of water to travel under the bridge and we look forward to maintaining our engagement and ... (will) be watching the events over the coming days."
Bainimarama has announced he plans to run in the 2014 elections.
About the author
- Writer: AFP
- Position: News agency