The decision everyone was expecting - Fiji's suspension from the Pacific Leaders Forum - was officially announced today.
Below is a statement from the leader of the Forum, Niue Premier, Toke Talagi:
“It is with considerable sorrow and disappointment that I confirm the suspension of the current military regime in the Republic of the Fiji Islands, from full participation in the Pacific Islands Forum, with immediate effect from 2 May 2009.”
Hon. Talagi added: “This difficult decision, agreed unanimously between all Forum leaders at our Retreat in Port Moresby on 27 January 2009, responds to Commodore Bainimarama’s failure to address constructively by 1 May 2009 the expectations of Forum Leaders to return Fiji to democratic governance in an acceptable time-frame, in addition to responding to a range of other concerns (the Port Moresby Leaders’ Retreat Decisions are attached). It is also particularly timely given the recent disturbing deterioration of the political, legal and human rights situation in Fiji since 10 April 2009.”
“These measures respond directly to the confirmation by the military regime in Fiji, particularly through its recent actions, that it rejects fundamental Forum obligations and core principles, as outlined in the Biketawa Declaration and other key guiding documents of the Forum. Reflecting on the Leaders Vision Statement of 2004, this involves cooperation through the Forum to create a Pacific region respected for the quality of its governance, the sustainable management of its resources, the full observance of democratic values and for its defence and promotion of human rights.”
The Forum Chair confirmed: “This decision does not amount to the expulsion of Fiji, as a nation, from its membership of the Forum. That proposition has not been considered by Leaders in their deliberations. As such, the Pacific Islands Forum remains a 16-member body and the Republic of the Fiji Islands continues to be part of the Forum group of nations, albeit with participation of the current regime suspended until further notice.”
“A regime which displays such a total disregard for basic human rights, democracy and freedom has no place in the Pacific Islands Forum. Nevertheless, we look forward with great hope to Fiji’s earliest possible return to constitutional democracy, through free and fair elections, when we will be able to restore this country to its rightful place among our family of Pacific Islands Forum nations. The Forum, as always, stands ready to assist Fiji’s return to democratic rule, concerned, in particular, by the increasingly negative and wide-ranging impacts of events over the past two and a half years on the people of Fiji,” Hon. Talagi reaffirmed.
The Leaders’ decision involves implementation of two specific targeted measures, taken in accordance with the 2000 Biketawa Declaration. The first involves suspension of participation by the leader, ministers and officials of Fiji from all Forum meetings and events arranged by the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, including the annual Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Meeting. The second measure involves ensuring the military regime in Fiji does not benefit directly from Forum regional cooperation initiatives or any new financial or technical assistance, other than assistance toward the restoration of democracy.