#header-inner img {margin: 0 auto !important; #header-inner {text-align: Center ;} Fiji Coupfourpointfive: 2009-08-02

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Regime unmoved by decision

The interim regime says it's not bothered by a decision by the Paciic Islands Forum that will see Fiji's suspension continue from May the second.

Information Ministry Permanent Secretary Lieutenant-Colonel Neumi Leweni told Fiji Television last night the regime doubted whether the decison of the Forum was unanimous given that Melanesian Spearhead Group countries had earlier opposed Fiji's suspension.

He claims the absence of Fiji from the Forum neant there was no way the unanimity of the Forum Leaders decision could be established.

But Leweni deliberately fails to tell the people of Fiji that the MSG Leaders after is 10th July meeting gave conditional support to the regime on the basis that it starts genuine dialogue and reconciliation with all sections of the society.

The importance of genuine dialogue been also emphasisd by both the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group and the Forum Leaders in their communique afer the 40th Laders Meeting in Cairns.

Leweni also failed to tell the people of Fiji that they and not the Forum had dis-engaged from the Forum Joint Working Group wel before the regime abrogated the Constitution and was suspended.

Forum ends with clear signal

Fiji's suspension from the Pacific Islands Forum will continue. At the end of the 40th Forum Leaders Meeting in Cairns, Australia, the leaders issued a communique re-affirming their unanimous and resolute support for the January 2009 decisions.

In accordance with the Port Moresby meeting, Fiji was suspended from the Forum on 2nd May after the dictatorship regime abrogated the Constitution on 10th April and entrenched itself in power for a minimum of another 5 years in defiance of a Fiji Court of Appeal decision of 9th April declaring the coup of 5th December 2006 as illegal.

The regime was excluded from both the pre-Forum trade dialogue as well as the Leaders Forum.

In their final communique o Forum outcomes, the leaders re-affirmed their earlier decisions under the Biketawa Declaration that requires good governance and democracy.

The Forum leaders condemned actions of Frank Bainimarama's military dictatorship regime, the deterioration of basic rights and liberties and democratic institutions, the abrogation of the Constitution, imposition of absolute media censorship, resricting freedom of assembly and on-going erosion of traditional pillars of Fijian society including chiefs and te Church.

The Leaders also deplored the recent detentions of Methodist Church leaders by the regime.

The Leaders welcomed the stan aken by the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) last week, which has decided it will suspend Fiji fully from the Commonwealth if the regime does not give a clar commitment in less than a month's time through the aboted President's Politial Dialogue Forum (PPDF). The Leaders stated the absence of rule of law was deteriorating Fiji's economy, undermining private sector and adversely affecting business confidence.

They essentially re-iterated CMAG's stand for a genuinely inclusive political dialogue without pre-conditions and pre-determined outcomes.

The Leaders said they would enage Fiji through the Forum Ministerial Contact Group and the Pacific Islands Forum-Fiji Joint Working Group saying these two organs are important mechanisims for dialogue and caled on the regime to re-engage with them.

The Forum Leaders also welcomed the clear solidarity for the region's position on Fiji from the United Nations, European Union and across the international community.

-------------------------------

Rika attack on bloggers disputed

An article in the New Zealand Herald saying Netani Rika attacked bloggers at the Vanuatu PINA conference has been disputed by a source close to the Fiji Times editor.

The story was written by Dev Nadkarni, a former journalism lecturer at the University of the South Pacific's Journalism School, who is now living in New Zealand.

The Auckland based publisher of Pacific Business Online's piece was titled "Fiji's isolation must not be ignored by Pacific leaders" and appeared on Wednesday.

Nadkarni focused on the Pacific Forum Leaders Conference in Cairns, and the recent PINA Conference in Vanuatu, in particular Rika's speech and his exit from a panel discussion and the attendance of the regime's censor, former radio journalist and now a Lance Corporal in the military, Talei Tora.

He wrote: "While bemoaning the clampdown on the media, Mr Rika also criticised annonymous bloggers who further vitiated the atmosphere by giving credence to rumour and challenged them to reveal their identities. He requested the audience to treat the military personnel present there with respect for the duration of the convention, but left the panel after the presentation, saying he could not share the dias with them".

But a source disputes Nadkarni's interpretation of the Rika presentation and comments, saying Rika did not attack bloggers as has been reported in the Herald.

The source also says Nadkarni's opinion that Rika requested the audience to treat Tora with respect is also a misrepresentation. In his speech, Rika had said those people (Tora) who restricted their work in newsrooms (under censorship) were on the panel, have been accepted at the forum and allowed to have a voice as a member of PINA.

And while thanking PINA for allowing the regime's Information Ministry to participate in the forum, Rika sincerely hoped that they would return home and tell their bosses of the dignity, decency and respect with which they had been treated.

In walking out of the panel in which Tora was a participant, Rika said he was not comfortable in the presence of people "who will not treat us with courtesy at home (Fiji) but expect to be treated with respect off-shore".

The source accused Nadkarni of being a coup apologist.

Netani Rika was awarded the Tavake Fusimalohi Media Freedom Award for his courage and bravery, during the PINA conference.

Editor's Note: The Netani Rika presentation to PINA is right of the blog.

Coupfourpointifve emailed Dev Nadkarni twice for comment but did not hear back from him.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Challenge of sorts amidst rantings over stars and coconut trees

The dictatorship regime's interim prime minister and army commander has challenged Niue's premier and outgoing chairman of the Pacific Leaders Forum, Toke Talagi, to come and march in Fiji in protest against the regime.

In an interview aired on Radio Legend FM news, Frank Bainimarama's challenges sounded like the rantings of a power hungry dictator.

Talagi told the opening of the 40th Forum Leaders Conference in Cairns, on Wednesday that the people of Fiji must rise and protest against the regime.

Reacting to Talagi, the regime's dictator challenged the Niue leader to come and march in Fiji, claiming he would find himself a lone protestor.

Bainimarama went on to attack Talagi for not coming to Fiji, resorting to saying things like he had no idea how many stars or even coconut trees the country had.

In a clear message to indigenous Fijians, Bainimaram boasted that there were no protests when the Great Council of Chiefs was suspended by him more than two years ago - or when the Methodist Church leaders were arrested recently.

The arrogance of Bainimarama clearly signals that he expects the populace of Fiji to continue condoning and obeying his regime's regressive and autocratic decisions and directives.

Raivoce under investigation

Former military colonel Sakiusa Raivoce is under investigation for breaching Public Emergency Regulations (PER), according to police.

Raivoce, the managing director of Global Risk Strategies, was arrested from his Tamavua home on Tuesday night and taken to Queen Elizabeth Barracks in Nabua where he was interrogated by the military.

He was released today without any charges laid against him. But police say Raivoce is still being investigated for breaching PER. It is understood he was arrested after circulating a certain email. The contents of the email are not known.

The no-nonsense Colonel was the subject of an arson attack in March this year when molotov cocktails were thrown at his vehicle parked in his house compound. The molotov hit his vehicle but was extinguished by Raivoce.

The molotov was meant to ignite the petrol tank of the four wheel drive, which would then set fire to his well-secured home.

NZ and Aust PM's reject call to rise up''


The prime ministers of New Zealand and Australia have both rejected a call by the outgoing chairman of the Pacific Forum for people in Fiji to rise up.

John Key and Kevin Rudd yesterday both said the suggestion was unhelpful and any solution must be a peaceful one.

The Forum's outgoing chair, Toke Talagi, yesterday said in his opening speech at the Pacific Leaders Forum in Cairns that people in Fiji should rise up and take the future into their own hands.

Mr Talagi (pictured above right) said interim prime minister Frank Bainimarama's road map to free elections by 2014 was unacceptable.

"Perhaps citizens of Fiji must now rise up to challenge the undemocratic rule of the military regime and restore democracy for the sake of their children's future."

The premier of Niue later told reporters: "I would wonder sometimes if people realise you can't shoot 500,000 Fijians. And you can't use the tactics you are using at the moment if you rise up peacefully."

Mr Talagi said he was not advocating violence.

The prime minister of New Zealand, John Key, rejected the call saying: "You can't have a good coup and a bad coup."

Forum chairman Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, condemned the recent treatment of the Methodist church leaders, but said any solution in Fiji should be peaceful.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Chaudhry allowed to travel to Australia

The Fiji Labour Party leader and the former interim finance minister in Frank Bainimarama's regime, Mahendra Chaudhry, flew to Australia last Sunday with his wife.

While the Australian High Commission in Suva is tight-lipped about how a coup supporter like Chaudhry was given a visa to travel to Australia, our sources say it is likely to be a restricted medical visa to allow his wife, Virmati Chaudhry, who is battling cancer, to seek treatment.

Visa restrictions were waived, too, in 2007, for the New Zealand permanent residency holder, Parmesh Chand, the then permanent secretary in the office of interim prime minister, Frank Bainimarama, who was allowed by the New Zealand High Commission to travel to Auckland for medical treatment.

But sources say while in Australia, Chaudhry is more than likely to seek reassurances that his secret $2 million stash, which is being kept in banks there, is safe.

The money was raised in India by Chaudry in the name of the opressed, poor, farmers and workers of Fiji, who he claimed was being terrorised by George Speight's thugs; the thugs who'd overthrown his government in May 2000.

A month ago, Chaudhry joined forces with his political enemy, ousted prime minister Laisenia Qarase, to campaign against the regime of Frank Bainimarama.

Durimg his 18 month honeymoon with Bainimarama when he was finance minister, he accused Qarase of corruption, mismanagement and financial abuse of taxpayers money - reasons he said justified Qarase's removal from power at the barrel of the gun, even though nine Labour Party Ministers were in Qarase's Multi-Party Cabinet.

MSG support for regime conditional

We can tonight confirm that the leaders of the Melanesian Spearhead Group did not offer their total support to Frank Bainimarama and the interim regime during the Special MSG Leaders Retreat at Port Vila last month.

Bainimarama has been trumpeting the support of the MSG leaders for his Strategic Framework and for the changes he announced to the people of Fiji on July the first. Under the Framework, work on a new Constitution would start in more than three year's time, in September 2012, with elections to be held in September 2014.

According to a joint communique signed by the MSG leaders and Bainimarama, the Melanesian leaders noted the Framework reflected clear vision and strategy. On Fiji's links with the Pacific Islands Forum, the leaders noted the importance of Fiji continuing to engage with the MSG and the Forum.

They said it was important for Fiji to participate in talks on regional trade and economic agreements such as PICA, PACER - plus and the interim Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). However, Fiji has been excluded from these talks and the 40th Forum Leaders Conference being held this week in Cairns, Australia.

The leaders then agreed in their communique on the way to achieve democracy, emphasising reconcliation and dialogue - something that was not revealed by the regime to the people of Fiji.

In the communique, sighted by Coupfourpointfive, the leaders urged the regime to engage all leaders in Fiji through a nationwide reconcliation and dialogue. They emphasised reconciliation would pave the way for open and genuine dialogue among leaders at all levels of the society, towards promoting the principles and practices of democracy.

The MSG leaders offered support to assist the regime towards building commitment and capacity for genuine dialogue and reconciliation consistent with Melanesian values and traditional practices.

The communique was signed by the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, Sir Michael Somare, Solomons Islands PM, Dr Derek Sikua, Vanuatu PM Edward Natapei, Kanak Socliast Liberation Front ( FLNKS) of New Caledonia spokesman, Vintor Tutugoro, and Frank Bainimarama.

The MSG leaders' decision on reconcliation and dialogue is similar to the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) outcome for the regime to initiate the Presidents Political Dialogue Forum of all political leaders and for the regime not to impose any pre-determined outcomes on the Forum to find a ay forward to democracy.

The resolution was reiterated last Friday night after an extraordinary meeting in London, with the Secretariat giving the regime until September 1 to move towards democracy and elections, or face full suspension.

Rudd suggests new trade agreement to exclude Fiji

Australia's prime minister Kevin Rudd says more needs to be done to help Fiji move back towards democracy.

Addressing leaders from the Pacific Islands Forum in Cairns a few minutes ago, Mr Rudd said the Forum has made its stand clear on the situation in Fiji and its dismay at the difficulties facing the people of Fiji.

"The fact that in recent times we have seen the arrest of ministers of religion in Fiji is not the Pacific Way.

"The people of Fiji deserve better and we look forward to their return to the family of democracies across our region," he said.

He told Pacific leaders they must think of ways to urge Fiji to return to democracy.

Mr Rudd said trade ministers have recommended they begin negotiations on a new trade agreement for the region., suggesting Fiji could be excluded by this agreement.

The Forum has been pushed into a tight corner since Fiji's suspension from the Forum in May.

Fiji is part of a regional trade agreement, PACER Plus, and being the hub of the Pacific, it would have been hard to exclude it from talks.

Bainimarama invites Commonwealth

Fiji's Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed Khaiyum says interim prime minister Frank Bainimarama is sending out an invitation to the Commonwealth Secretary General to send a delegation to talk to him and his interim regime to find a better way forward.

He told Radio Australia that Frank Bainimarama has spoken with Commonwealth representatives and is hoping that a meeting with them will avoid a suspension threat.

The Commonwealth has given Fiji until September to come up with an election date to be held next year.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Pro-poor regime now strangulating people


The interim regime called itself pro-poor when it handed down the 2009 Budget, but it's now strangulating ordinary and poor people with the high prices for goods and services it's imposing on the country.

The interim Cabinet yesterday approved a 30% increase to bus fares. The flagfall for taxis has also increased 50 cents. The fare of $1 from 6am to 10pm will jump to $1.50 from tomorrow and that of $1.50 from 10pm to 6am will rise to $2. The waiting charge of 10 cents for every two minutes will now apply every minute.

The 30% but fare increase also applies to sudents.

The regime has withdrawn the 21.9% subsidy previously given to bus operators and imposed the exorbitant fare increases on consumers. But there has been no pay increase for almost three years - especially in the public sector.

Pay increases in the private sector, especially for ordinary workers, has increased between 2 and 5 percent - compared to 30% increase in fares and more than 20% increase in cost of other goods and services due to devaluation.

Today, the interim Cabinet approved a 15% increase to electricity charges adding $2 million annually to the coffers of Fiji Electricity Authority. This is in direct contravention of the powers bestowed on the Commerce Commission, which is responsible for determining increases or decreases to utility charges.

90% of consumers will be affected by the increase and will end up paying between $9 and $15 more per month, depending on their elecritcity usage.

The increase in electricity charges will inevitably be passed onto consumers by businesses, meaning they will pay an extra 15% for goods apart from paying 15% more for their power bills.

The interim government says its decision was made after long deliberations with stakeholders.

The spokesperson for the Ministry of Works, Sainiana Waqainabete, has been quoted as saying: “In fact, they (bus operators) had requested a 20 per cent increase and we’ve tried very hard to assist. We’ve ascertained that they’re going through hard times,” Waqainabete said.

She says an increase in the price of fuel and the recent devaluation also had a part to play in the bus and taxi fare increases.

Rokomokoti starts terminating cases against interim regime

The Acting Chief Registrar of the judiciary, Ana Rokomokoti, has started issuing certificates to terminate cases already before the Courts against the regime.

Sources say they've sighted such a certificate, which are called Certificate of Termination of Proceedings. The legal challenge was issued by a Chief Executive Officer removed from office by Frank Bainimarama after the military coup of December 2006 and later terminated through a Decree by the outgoing President, Ratu Josefa Iloilo.

The defendants in the case were Bainimarama, the military, the Home Affairs Ministry, the interim Attorney-General, the President and the CEO's employer.

In the Certificate issued in May, Rokomokoti said the proceedings were terminated pursuant to Section 23 (e) (g) of the Administrative of Justice Decree.

The Decree prohibits challenges against the regime, the President or any of regime's employees im whatever actions they took between December 5 2006 and April 9, 2009 - a day before the Constitution was abrogated.

Defiance and acts of treason continue

As the 40th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders Conference gets underway in Cairns, the interim prime minister, Frank Bainimarama, has today reiterated its decision to defy the Commonwealth Secretariat's resolution for Fiji to hold electons by October next year.

Bainimarama has told Fijilive that elections will be held in 2014 and a new Constitution will be drawn up to address the coup culture. Coupfourpointfive regards Bainimarama's statement as hypocritical, as he himself committed treason by carrying out the fourth military coup on December 5, 2006.

His defiance means Fiji will be fully suspended from the Commonwealth in September. The suspension will affect financial and technical aid and possibly Fiji's participation at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

After the second coup in September 1987, Fiji was expelled from the Commonwealth. Fiji remained in isolation for 10 years until October 1997, when it was re-admitted to the august family of nations following the formulation of the 1997 Constoitution.

In May this year, Fiji was suspended from the Pacific Leaders Forum, for failing to move on its promise to hold democratic elections. It was the first time the Forum had ever suspended a member country.

Pacific leaders urged to push for human rights

New York-based Human Rights Watch is urging Pacific leaders meeting in Cairns this week to push Fiji's interim government to cease human rights abuses.

HRW has sent a letter to the leaders meeting at the Pacific Islands Forum, calling on them to raise the Fiji regime's human rights violations in formal and informal meetings with its representatives.

The forum suspended Fiji in May after it ignored a deadline to set a date for elections this year. Military leader Commodore Voreqe (Frank) Bainimarama, who grabbed power in a December 2006 coup, said there would be no elections until 2014.

HRW said Bainimarama's control has increased since he announced his cabinet would choose a new president following President Ratu Josefa Iloilo's retirement on July 30.

"As Bainimarama strengthens his grip, Pacific leaders should present a united front to make it clear that they will not tolerate human rights abuses in Fiji," HRW deputy Asia director Elaine Pearson said in a statement today.

"Pacific leaders need to raise this issue with Bainimarama and his government, and press him to bring the abuse to a halt."

HRW said that since 2007, there have been four deaths in military or police custody, and dozens of people have been arbitrarily detained, sexually assaulted, intimidated, beaten, or otherwise subjected to degrading treatment.

Since the interim government abrogated the constitution on April 10, the administration had limited the independence of the judiciary, removing all judicial officers from office, reconstituting courts and commissions, intervening in the licensing of lawyers, and legislating to prohibit legal challenge of its acts.

"Violations of the rights to freedom of expression, association, and assembly, among others, have intensified. The media are heavily censored. Officials have released military and police officers convicted of crimes prior to the completion of their sentences, fuelling impunity." - NZPA

Former Court of Appeal judge sounds caution


As the Pacific Islands Forum gets underway in Cairns today, a former Court of Appeal judge to Fiji has warned the island nation will become a pariah state if it continues to ignore democracy.

Ian Lloyd QC (pictured right) was one of three Australian Court of Appeal judges, who ruled that Frank Bainimarama's interim Government illegal.

The ruling triggered a move by the interim government to abrogate the Constitution and install the president as the head of state as it introduced a state of emergency, allowing it to put into place a new legal order.

Lloyd has told Sky News that Commodore Bainimarama hates being pushed around and will not listen to anyone.

He says Fiji is sure to suffer if it carries on ignoring democracy and cuts itself off from foreign aid. He says the nation is sure to suffer a massive recession.

The leaders of Papua New Guinea, Solomons and Vanuatu are expected to lobby for Fiji to be allowed back into the Forum, in Cairns, today.

The Forum was forced to suspend Fiji in May, for failing to announce elections will be held by the end of the year.

Lloyd says Fiji will suffer.

"Tourism may be very, very diminished and the quality of living of all the people there will be terrible," Lloyd told Sky News.

He says the worry for Australia is that if it continues to reduce aid to Fiji, China will step in to fill the void.

"China is hardly a beacon of democracy itself but China is pouring large amounts of foreign aid into Fiji and will continue to do so if other countries pull out."

Monday, August 3, 2009

Church blackmailed into cancelling conference

Coupfourpointfive has been told the Methodist Church succumbed to emotional blackmail and traded off the annual conference for the relaxation of bail conditions for the former church leaders and executives facing charges of contravening the emergency regulations.

Former leaders Reverends Tomasi Kanailagi and Manasa Lasaro, current President Reverend Ame Tugaue and four others appeared in the Suva magistrates court and were not only granted bail but also allowed to hold meetings relating to the conference as long as they were not political.

Previously the military regime did not allow any meetings of the church.

During their court appearance an application for bail by lawyer Aseri Vakaloloma was not objected to by Director of Public Prosecutons John Rabuku.

Instead Rabuku told the court the fact the ministers agreed to abide by the strict bail conditions indicated the church acknowledged the interim regime.

On Friday afternoon when the Assistant Secretary of the Church Tevita Nawadra announced the cancellation of the conference in Rewa, he said they had met interim Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama.

Sources have told us that members of the Standing Committee met with Bainimarama and the Military Council early last week.

The regime and the military told the church executives they would be responsible for bloodshed if the conference went ahead.

Sources say instead of the executives questioning Bainimarama, they gave in to the blackmail.

In return, the regime agreed the judiciary would be told to relax the bail conditions of the church executives facing charges.

Sources say it confirms the long held view the regime has direct influence on the judiciary.

Bainimarama dismisses warning

Frank Bainimarama has dismissed a warning by the Commonwealth that it will suspend the coup striken nation if elections are not held by next year.

He told Fijilive that the threat won't distract him from the roadmap he has outlined for the country.

The Commonwealth Ministrial Action Group says Fiji will be suspended in September, if it fails to hold elections by next year.

But Bainmarama says people have been trying to change Fiji for the last 18 months and he will not change his plans.

Fiji was suspended from the Pacific Islands Forum in May.

Methodist ministers visit Rewa

Seven Methodist ministers yesterday made a traditional approach to the chiefly host of their 2009 annual conference to announce its cancellation.

Former church president Reverend Laisiasa Ratabacaca led the 11-man delegation and made a presentation for Rewa to accept the church's decision made on Friday.

"It was a difficult task for the church to convey this message to the vanua of Rewa and it was also difficult for the Marama Roko Tui Dreketi (Ro Teimumu Kepa) to accept," church assistant general secretary Reverend Tevita Banivanua told the Fiji Times.

"But we're strengthened by God's word when He said: 'For when I am weak, then I am strong' (2 Corinthians 12:10)."

He told the Fiji Times there were two ways to deal with the State's decision not to allow the conference - to be confrontational, which the church did not want to be seen as, or be humble.

"That is God's will," he said.

He said the vanua Rewa had accepted this decision since it only awaited the voice of the church.

Ro Teimumu is currently bound by strict bail conditions, which means she would not be able to call for any meetings to inform her people of this decision.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Faleomavaega statement reaffirms US Fiji 'solution'

The Chairman of the Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific and the Global Environment,
Eni Faleomavaega, has sent Secretary of State Hillary Clinton a letter outlining his views on a path for the United States to help Fiji’s resolve its longstanding political problems.

He also shared his thoughts with Kurt Campbell, the assistant secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs (America’s top diplomat for the region), at a meeting on Thursday morning. The Chairman developed his views in close consultation over an extended period of time with key leaders – including those from the opposition – representing all major constituencies involved in the political issues confronting the country.

“Fiji’s problems, which can be traced directly to the country’s unique colonial history, have included four military coups and one civilian coup – under three different constitutions – in the period since 1987. I have visited Fiji three times in the past three months and spoken with leaders from all sides, and I have also consulted other key figures in the region. Fiji, the United States and the Asia Pacific as a whole have an enormous stake in ensuring Fiji’s swift return to stability, democracy and economic growth,” said Faleomavaega.

“I was pleased to learn that Kurt Campbell will be leading a high-level U.S. interagency delegation next week to the Post-Forum Dialogue of the Pacific Island Forum (PIF) in Cairns, Australia. Kurt is an old friend, and I look forward to working with him in coming months and years on issues affecting Oceania, as well Northeast and Southeast Asia, three of the four regions over which my Subcommittee has jurisdiction – and the three regions his bureau oversees.

"The fact that Kurt will be leading such an important group will send precisely the right signal about the Obama Administration’s commitment to engaging the Pacific Island countries and helping Fiji address its problems. The key topic for the upcoming PIF will be the current situation in Fiji, including the country’s suspension from the Forum last May.

“There is ongoing debate among the countries of Oceania on how best to address the
problems in Fiji. Two weeks ago, the Melanesian Spearhead Group, which includes the
countries of Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji, called for the PIF to lift its suspension of Fiji. The Group also recognized Fiji's right to participate in regional trade and economic agreements. On the other side, Australia and New Zealand have sought to sanction Fiji. But their actions have proved notably counterproductive, in my view, resulting only in greater hardship for the people of Fiji. Fortunately, Wellington and Canberra seem to be toning down their rhetoric lately, and appear more willing to engage in constructive dialogue with Suva,” added Faleomavaega.

“On my three trips to Fiji this year, I have held discussions with interim Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, deposed Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase and a couple dozen others. On my most recent trip last week, I presented Prime Minister Bainimarama with a letter outlining my views on how the United States might offer expertise and resources to assist his country in achieving equal suffrage and other political, economic and social reforms targeted under the ‘Strategic Framework for Change.’ Such U.S. assistance would help strengthen bilateral ties,
improve regional conditions and speed the sort of reforms that the interim Prime Minister, I believe, sincerely seeks.

“I am looking forward to continuing my conversation with both Secretary Clinton and
Assistant Secretary Campbell and stand willing to assist in any way I can. I firmly believe we should seize the opportunity we have right now to help Fiji move more speedily toward democracy, stability and prosperity,” Faleomavaega concluded.