The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG), which held an extraordinary meeting in London yesterday, has released a statement on Fiji.
The Action Group addresses serious or persistent violations of the Commonwealth's fundamental political values and has, again, urged Fiji to return to democracy as quickly as possible - saying it faces further sanctions if it doesn't.
1. The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group on the Harare Declaration (CMAG) held an extraordinary meeting in London on 31 July 2009. The Meeting was chaired by Hon Datuk Anifah Aman, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Malaysia. It was also attended by H.E. Alhaji Muhammad Mumuni, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Ghana; Hon Marco Hausiku, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Namibia; Hon Murray McCully, Minister of Foreign Affairs of New Zealand; Hon Samuel T. Abal, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Immigration of Papua New Guinea; Hon Rohitha Bogollagama, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sri Lanka; Hon Rufus George Bousquet, Minister of External Affairs of St Lucia; Hon Sam Kutesa, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Uganda; and Mr Ivan Lewis, Minister of State in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, United Kingdom.
2. CMAG received a written communication from the Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum, Hon Toke Talagi, Premier of Niue.
3. The Group also received with appreciation a briefing from the High Commissioner of Fiji to the United Kingdom, H E Mr Pio Bosco Tikoisuva.
4. CMAG further received and took note of a Joint Statement dated 24 July 2009 made by two former Prime Ministers of Fiji, Mr Laisenia Qarase and Mr Mahendra Chaudhry, as well as a letter from Mr Mick Beddoes, Leader of the Opposition in the last parliament of Fiji.
5. CMAG recalled that, at its previous meeting on 4 March 2009, it had deplored the fact that Fiji remained in contravention of Commonwealth values and principles; that CMAG’s call for the Interim Government to adhere to its March 2009 deadline for holding elections had not been heeded; and that the Interim Government had not indicated an alternative date for elections. It further recalled that, at that meeting, CMAG had reaffirmed that the engagement of the Commonwealth in Fiji should continue to be directed at protecting and promoting the fundamental values and principles of the Commonwealth, in the interests of the people of Fiji.
6. The Group further recalled its decision in March that, should sufficient progress not be made by Fiji towards a return to democracy, Fiji would be fully suspended from the Commonwealth at the Group’s next regularly scheduled meeting in September 2009.
7. The Group noted that Fiji’s situation with regard to fundamental Commonwealth values had deteriorated strikingly since March. It deplored the President’s purported abrogation of the Constitution on 10 April 2009, the further entrenchment of authoritarian rule in Fiji outside the Constitution and the rule of law, the ongoing violation of human rights including freedom of speech and assembly, arbitrary detention of opponents of the military regime, and the undermining of the independence of the judiciary and legal system. CMAG also deplored the intention of the Fiji regime to further delay the return to democracy by more than five years.
8. In relation to Commonwealth engagement with Fiji, CMAG expressed its deep regret at the Fiji regime’s withdrawal of cooperation with the Commonwealth and UN on the proposed President’s Political Dialogue Forum (PPDF) and the effective abandonment of that process.
9. CMAG noted the decision by leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum to suspend Fiji from participation in the Forum as of 2 May 2009.
10. CMAG urged the Fiji regime to immediately reactivate the President’s Political Dialogue Forum process, facilitated by the Commonwealth and the United Nations. CMAG stressed that such a Dialogue must be independent, inclusive, time-bound and without any pre-determined outcome, and lead to credible elections in the country no later than October 2010.
11. CMAG urged the Fiji regime to state its firm commitment to reactivating the PPDF as indicated in the terms outlined in paragraph 10 above, by no later than 1 September 2009, in writing to the Commonwealth Secretary-General. In the absence of such confirmation, Fiji will be fully suspended on that date. CMAG authorised the Chair and the Secretary-General to consult on engagement with the Fiji regime should a positive response be received, and to furnish a report to CMAG’s next meeting in New York on 26 September 2009.
12. Consistent with the provisions of the Millbrook Action Programme and CMAG’s own earlier statements, the Group reaffirmed the importance of continued engagement by the Commonwealth with Fiji, in pursuit of its entrusted responsibility to support the restoration of constitutional democracy in that country and protecting and promoting human rights and the welfare of the people of Fiji.
ommonwealth Secretary-General and comprises the Foreign Ministers of nine Commonwealth member countries – currently Ghana, Malaysia (Chair), Namibia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, St Lucia, Sri Lanka, Uganda (Deputy Chair) and the United Kingdom.