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Fiji: Call To Ban Military

Issue No: 81; 4 October 2000

Call To Ban Military

The Pacific Concerns Resource Centre has called for outlawing and banning all forms of militarisation including standing armies.

PCRC's Director, Hilda Lini is quoted in today's Fiji Sun as saying:

"There is no justification for militarisation in the Pacific or for Pacific countries to have standing armies. It is a myth that the military is a source of employment and there to maintain peace and order"

She further stated:

"Our young man and women can be used for better purposes without guns. Money used on the military should be spent on essential services and Pacific countries should not accept military training and assistance from foreign governments".

Lini, a former government minister in the Government of Vanuatu is also the sister of late Prime Minister Walter Lini of Vanuatu. After the 1987 military coup, PM Lini continued to recognise the Bavadra government and had invited Dr. Bavadra to Vanuatu as the Prime Minister of Fiji.

Hilda Lini also called for indigenous self-determination in the Pacific. Earlier, speaking at a Seminar in Melbourne, Lini had condemned the terrorist take-over in Fiji but had expressed sympathy with the call for indigenous Fijian political supremacy in the country.

END

Issue No: 82; 4 October 2000

Regime Confident of Australian Support

The interim regime says that it is optimistic that Australia will continue to assist Fiji as a trade partner.

The statement comes just days after Australian High Commissioner to Fiji, Susan Boyd, said Australia is committed to working with Fiji through the current crisis. Boyd was speaking at a festival in Ba town.

She stated that Australia was looking at practical ways to help the interim regime to "bring in a constitution, once more and hold elections".

Many people in Fiji have questioned whether this statement indicates a change in the Australian position on Fiji. Earlier Australia had maintained that the 1997 Constitution should be reinstated. Australia had also endorsed the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group's mid-September resolution on Fiji. The reference to "a constitution" is a clear indication that Boyd has accepted the regime's plan for a new constitution to be drawn up. Whether this is the official Australian Government's position, or her personal position remains unclear.

Boyd informed the audience that the Australian Government has not imposed trade sanctions because it believes these hurt the innocent and affect other states in the region. She further said:

"We have not abandoned our aid program, for we believe that at a time like this, Fiji needs the right kind of help. We have not abandoned our defence cooperation program, for we believe that we still need to work together for security in the region.. We are your single largest investor, the single largest source of your visitors, the major aid donor, funding the University of the South Pacific, the South Pacific Community, your school of medicine, your teacher training colleges. We are helping you build hospitals and develop a better health service, we are helping upgrade your rural schools, we are helping reform your education system, we are helping improve your customs and inland revenue services. We are your partner in your airlines. We helped train your Olympic athletes and assist

with the development of sport throughout the community.

The interim regime stated that it was confident of Australian support. A statement from the regime said:

"The Interim administration remains adamant that the timeframe for constitutional and democratic governance does not only conform to the political values of the Millbrook Commonwealth Action Programme on the Harare Declaration, but is also realistic, given the delicate and sensitive issues it must attend to. To do this however, foreign governments including Australia, must understand that we need to move forward carefully step by step and not be rushed headlong into a precipice of political uncertainty."

The regime statement also said that it expects the Australian Council of Trade Unions to "side with the Fiji Trade Union Congress" and "to pressure Fiji through strike action if Government fails to comply with the demands outlined by the Australian government."

END

4 October 2000.


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