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FIJI: CCF appeals for government of national unity

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By Peter Emberson
© USP Journalism Programme

SUVA: Fiji's Citizens' Constitutional Forum today appealed to the military regime to appoint an interim government of national unity from 56 members of the democratic Parliament who are not being held captive.

Rev Akuila Yabaki, executive director of the CCF, called on military chief Commodore Frank Bainimarama to agree such a government comprising members of both the lower House of Representatives and the Senate.

He also called on the military to hand over responsibilty for the negotiation for the release of the 27 remaining hostages to the elected political leaders in such a government.

"It is obvious that the Republic of Fiji Military Forces negotiating team and [rebel leader] George Speight's people have not been able to agree on the composition of the cabinet and the person to be appointed as President," Rev. Yabaki said at a media conference.

He said the only issue they were able to agree on in the proposed Muanikau Accord was the reference of the appointment of a president to the Bose Levu Vaka Turaga.

The President would then apoint a cabinet from the two lists of the RFMF and Speight's group.

"The Muanikau Accord is not a solution to our present impasse. Neither will it bring about the lifting of trade bans and sanctions that have been or will be imposed on Fiji by the Commonwealth countries, the European Union and other nations," he said.

However, he believed an interim unity government, picked from all political parties that have been members of Parliament, would put Fiji in a stronger position to ask for the lifting of the bans and therefore speed up the movement towards normalcy.

Rev Yabaki reiterated the Commonwealth Ministerial Action for Changes (CMAG) call to quickly reinstate a constitutional government if Fiji was to retain membership in the Commonwealth.

The question of the President and Vice-President's appointment by the Bose Levu Vakaturaga could then be left until normality was restored by the civilian interim government.

This would be in line with the military government's original position, which was to convene a meeting in three months time, Rev. Yabaki said.

"Negotiations with George Speight should be abandoned because the Muanikau Accord will never bring about any economic recovery."

He believes the country could not afford to have these "on-off" negotiations drag on too much longer because people were losing their job as businesses were being adversely affected by the situation.

Rev Yabaki said Parliament should be convened under Section 68(3) of the 1997 Constitution to elect an interim government or by decrees.

"The RFMF should confine itself only to guarding the elected interim government, policing the curfews and guarding public installations after it hands over power," he said.

Rev. Yabaki said there were 56 members of Parliament available at large to make a quorum for a joint meeting of both houses of Parliament for this purpose and the Speaker, Dr. Apenisa Kurisiqila, is reported as willing to convene the Parliament.

Jone Dakuvula, of the CCF, who was also at the press conference, said Speight was not willing to accept anything other than the full list of demands they wanted - "only then would they release their hostages."

"Recognising that situation, we've got to look after the interests of the nation and we've got to put in place an interim government that will be able to have credibility internationally, that stays within the constitution and that will also be able call on other foreign governments and unions overseas to lift the ban and the sanctions," Dakuvula said.

"As for the parliamentarians [hostages] in there, that becomes the responsibilty of the interim government," he said.

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This document is for educational and research use only. Recipients should seek permission from the copyright source before reprinting. PASIFIK NIUS service is provided by the niusedita via the Journalism Program, University of the South Pacific. Please acknowledge Pasifik Nius: niusedita@pactok.net.au http://www.usp.ac.fj/journ/nius/index.html


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