The Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum and Premier of Niue, Toke Talagi, has condemned the recent developments in Fiji in which the constitution was purportedly set aside, judges and other legal officials dismissed and emergency regulations promulgated to restrict basic human rights, including media freedom, in the country.
“I condemn the actions of the military regime in Fiji to date, the abrogation of the Constitution and reappointment of members of the previous Interim Government in direct contravention of Fiji law as determined by the Court of Appeal on 9th April 2009,” Mr Talagi said.
“The hopes and aspirations of many in Fiji and the wider region, just briefly raised by the Court of Appeal decision on 9 April, have been dashed by the unilateral and irresponsible actions of President Iloilo and Commodore Bainimarama.
"The events of the past few days amount to wanton disregard for constitutionalism and the rule of law in Fiji and confirm my fears that there is no commitment on the part of this military regime to return Fiji to democracy through free and fair elections in any acceptable timeframe as urged by Forum Leaders.
“It is a very difficult time for the Pacific Islands Forum as the military regime in Fiji have now confirmed that they are unable to abide by the core commitments to democracy, human rights and justice which lie at the very heart of our Forum family in the Pacific.
"The thoughts and prayers of all Forum Leaders are with the people of Fiji at this difficult and distressing time. We know they continue to bear the burden of the social and economic damage compounded by the actions of the last few days," he said.
The Chair reiterated that the Pacific Islands Forum stands ready to support any legitimate and balanced efforts to return Fiji to freedom and democracy.
“We will not abandon the people of Fiji, nor doubt Fiji's ability to contribute greatly to strengthening the Pacific region. We wait anxiously for its early return to democracy and good governance and resumption of normal relations with its Pacific neighbours,” the Chair added.
The Chair also noted he was very mindful of the implications of recent developments for Forum member country citizens in Fiji and the possible impacts on the convening of Forum meetings in the country and on the operations of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat which is headquartered in Suva. The Chair indicated he would be giving these matters further consideration in his contacts with Forum Leaders.
“I will be consulting with my fellow Forum Leaders on actions to underscore our condemnation of the military regime’s hijacking of Fiji’s Constitution, particularly where there was due process already provided under law to return the country to constitutional democracy through free and fair elections."