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Dakuvula warns of tougher sanctions against Fiji

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SUVA: Fiji faces tougher international sanctions if the military-installed interim Prime Minister refuses to support a government of national unity with the deposed coalition government, warns constitutional advocate Jone Dakuvula.

He made the warning in Suva at the weekend as the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group in New York rejected Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase's two-year plan, saying his administration lacked "both legitimacy and credibility".

The committee of foreign ministers rejected the two-year timetable for fresh elections, and asked for the appointment of a special envoy to help accelerate the restoration of democracy.

The meeting made the decision after considering the report of its mission to Fiji in June and submissions by both Qarase and the deposed elected Prime Minister, Mahendra Chaudhry.

The Sunday Sun reported today that Qarase was expected to face protesters calling for the restoration of democracy in Fiji before he addressed the United Nations in New York.

Dakuvula, a member of the Suva-based Citizens' Constitutional Forum executive committee, has just returned from a visit to the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.

In a statement, he said there was an "international consensus" that there was no acceptable justification for the interim Qarase administration to remain in power for two years.

"They all agree that the interim administration should return Fiji to constitutional democracy under the framework of the 1997 constitution," he said.

"They do not believe that Fiji requires a new constitution or a general election after two years.

"Their legal experts have analysed the 1997 constitution and they have advised their respective governments that the interests of the indigenous Fijians for development are best promoted under the [present] constitution."

Dakuvula said he believed that if Qarase refused to support a government of national unity with the deposed coalition government under the 1997 constitution, "international sanctions against Fiji will be maintained and intensified and would include European Community sanctions, the United States and even the United Nations".

"The international community will blame the Qarase cabinet for the economic and other consequences of intensified international sanctions against Fiji in the months and years ahead for its intransigence against immediate return to constitutional government," he said.

"If the Qarase cabinet refuses to cooperate with the CMAG and the European Parliament (which has given a November deadline), then it must not blame other countries' actions against Fiji."

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