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Disregarding decision will jeopardise deal - Aus

Disregarding Appeal Court decision will jeopardise Garment deal - Australia

Issue No: 415 25 January 2001

The Australian Government says that if the Qarase regime disregards the due process of law or the decision of the Fiji Court of Appeal, then the garment deal it has made with Fiji will be jeopardised.

In a letter written to the People's Coalition Government, the Australian Government's Pacific Islands Branch official, Rick Nimmo stated: "Continuing implementation of the [garment] scheme will be subject to the interim government's progress in implementing a speedy return to democratic rule and a constitutional outcome which accords with democratic norms."

The letter also stated: "we have informed the interim government that the Australian Government is following closely the Curt of Appeal's consideration of the High Court ruling of 15 November on the 1997 Constitution. The interim authorities have been advised that any action by them which disregards the importance of observing due process in this mater will also jeopardise continuation of the scheme".

Earlier the Australian government had renewed the import credit scheme for the garment industry because the Qarase regime had "made a public commitment to hold democratic elections by March 2002 rather than - as previously suggested - only after two or more years". The decision was widely condemned by pro-democracy groups as Australia giving in to the forces of terrorism and violence in Fiji. The Australian Opposition had also criticised the government for accepting the illegality of the current regime in Fiji (see: http://www.pcgov.org.fj/archive/2000-12/no293.htm )

END 25 Jan 2001


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