August 21, 2008

Forum has run out of patience with Fiji

Forum has run out of patience with Fiji - 8/20/2008

Pacific Forum leaders have “run out of patience” with the interim Government.
While there have been mixed reactions from members of the Forum at the absence of interim Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama from the Niue meeting, New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark said her regional peers had run out of patience.

The meeting, which began yesterday, heard immediate reactions to Cdre Bainimarama’s failure to attend.

“I think the Forum should send a very clear message to him,” said Ms Clark.

“We don’t really know what the dynamics are in Fiji at this point but I think people will be surprised that their self proclaimed PM is not ready to face his peers here.”

Pacnews reported she likened Commodore Bainimarama’s reaction to that of Zimbabwean President, Robert Mugabe, when he was expelled from the Commonwealth.

“I have a feeling of deja vu about this,” she said.

“It seems like the dance the Commonwealth had with Zimbabwe but the Commonwealth stuck to its principles. Robert Mugabe left rather than face his peers. One hopes that Fiji sees the sense of sticking to the commitments it gave to leaders.”

She did not rule out further sanctions against Fiji but only hinted that the report of the Forum Ministerial Contact Group (MCG) is expected to be endorsed by the leaders today.

“The report concludes that there is no technical, administrative or managerial reasons for Fiji not to honour its March 2009 elections commitment. The problem is there is no political will.

“In my bilateral meetings with the Samoan Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Malielegaoi and the Papua New Guinea foreign affairs minister, who are members of the Ministerial Contact Group, they indicated their support for the MCG report,” said Ms Clark.

Tongan Prime Minister and outgoing chairman of the Pacific Islands Forum, Dr Feleti Sevele said, he personally felt let down by the non attendance of Commodore Bainimarama.’

“We acted in good faith and as a regional organisation, we included everybody in the discussions on Fiji” Dr Sevele told journalists.

“I am disappointed that he is not fulfilling his commitment and he’s not here. His actions have undermined the Forum, putting it under stress,” said Dr Sevele.

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