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Statement By Fiji PM Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama

Statement by Commodore Josaia V. Bainimarama Interim Prime Minister and Minister for Public Service, People's Charter for Change, Information, Provincial Development, Indigenous and Multi-ethnic Affairs, Thursday, 17th April, 2008.

The Prime Minister, Commodore Josaia V. Bainimarama, said today that the Interim Government has conveyed its views to His Excellency, the President relating to the Resolution which His Excellency received from the National Council for Building a Better Fiji ( NCBBF) regarding the need to establish a forum to discuss the steps needed to reform Fiji's electoral system.

Commodore Bainimarama said that the Electoral Commission and the Constituency Boundaries Commission had recently briefed him on the arrangements being made for the conduct of the next election.

In that briefing the Commissions had expressed a number of concerns regarding the current electoral rules under which the next election would be conducted. The Prime Minister said that the two independent Commissions had indicated that while Fiji wishes to return to democracy by holding elections in March, 2009, this is impossible under the current electoral system as this system itself is undemocratic, and also that it violates the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Commodore Bainimarama said he and Co-Chair Archbishop Petero Mataca then had asked for a special meeting of the NCBBF to receive a similar briefing from the Electoral Commission and the Constituency Boundaries Commission.

At its meeting last Tuesday (15 April, 08), the National Council passed a Resolution expressing concern that using the current electoral rules would amount electing a government under rules that were undemocratic.

He and his Co-Chair, His Grace Archbishop Mataca had conveyed the Resolution including the Communique of the NCBBF to His Excellency, the President on the day of the National Council meeting, prior to its conclusion.

The Prime Minister said that the Interim Government, for its part, had now advised the President that it fully supports the NCBBF's urgent call for a forum to be held, backed by appropriate expertise and resources, for key stakeholders in Fiji including all the political parties, to discuss the steps needed to reform Fiji's electoral system to conform, inter alia, with the principles enunciated with the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Fiji's Pacific Forum development partners may be invited to join in the discussion.

The Prime Minister said he was issuing this press release today so that the people of Fiji had up to date information on these important issues. In its advice to the President, the Interim Government has fully and strongly endorsed the NCBBF recommendation that the proposed forum be convened by the end of May, 2008, if not earlier.

The Prime Minister again confirmed the Interim Government's intentions to hold the national election as soon as possible in 2009.


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