#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: Democracy group warns of dire times

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Democracy group warns of dire times

The chairman of the Movement for Democracy group has warned of difficult times for Fiji, following its suspension from the Pacific Islands Forum.

Fiji was today suspended from the Forum, after Frank Bainimarama's regime failed to come up with an election date at midnight last night.

Attar Singh from the Fiji based Democracy group says Fiji's suspension was to be expected.

"The decision to suspend the country's rulers is not surprising given the outcomes of the Forum Leaders' meeting on January 27, 2009, which required the regime to announce a definite timetable to hold free and fair elections by December 2009."

However, instead of following the Fiji Court of Appeal ruling of 9th April, which had given the nation a window of opportunity by ruling that a caretaker government be appointed to facilitate elections, the Constitution was abrogated the following day and the interim regime re-instated," Mr Singh said.

He said the Forum's decision means the beginning of more difficult and worsening times for all in Fiji.

"It will also set in motion similar actions by others particularly the Commonwealth. We have continuously called for quick return to Constitutionality since December, 2006 knowing that unless we did that our people will suffer in several ways."

"We have not only lost democratic governance but with it, our fundamental freedoms particularly of expression and assembly and the hard earned respect of the international community."

Mr Singh said Fiji's economy continues to deteriorate and the 20 percent devaluation of the Fiji dollar had sharply increased inflation prices of goods and services including basic food items.

"Jobs have been lost, wages are stagnant and many businesses are either closing or reviewing their operations. Workers face arbitrary dismissals, retirements and redundancies with little choice of alternative employment. Only this week 2301 civil servants over the age of 55 were forced into
retirement on April 30th. And this number will increase as workers in the civil service reach 55 years of age."

"This is causing acute pain and suffering for ordinary people, who are struggling to meet basic needs such as putting food on the table and educating their children."

Mr Singh said all these trends could have been reversed if the regime and its advisors "heeded our repeated calls or simply followed the Court of Appeal ruling".

"But I think we can still reverse current trends and restore hope if we all take stock and change course. But we do not have any more time to waste. We need to act now."

"To that end I am encouraged by the the Forum Chair's announcement that the Forum stands ready to assist us return to democratic rule. I therefore call on the regime and its advisors to help save us from further pain and suffering that will result from isolation," Me Singh said.

"Let us all meet to together find our way out with the help of the international community."

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