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Bainimarama Statement On Fiji-Forum Working Group

Statement by the Prime Minister on Fiji - Forum Working Group

The Prime Minister, Commodore Josaia V. Bainimarama, said that the Interim Government has conveyed its position to the Chairman of the Pacific Islands Forum, Tongan Prime Minister Dr Feleti V. Sevele, regarding Fiji's decision to no longer participate in the Meetings of the Fiji- Forum Working Group.

Commodore Bainimarama said Fiji will stay out "until such time the positions of Australia and New Zealand become more genuine and conciliatory. The position we have taken in this instance has nothing to do with the issue of timing of elections. As I have said before and continue to maintain that Fiji will return to Parliamentary Democracy as soon as practicable."

Commodore Bainimarama said that he has given his unequivocal support to the Working Group since its setup following the Meeting of Forum Foreign Ministers in Port Vila in April last year.

"I have at all times ensured that Fiji's participation in the Working Group is consistent and at most Senior level. In this regards, Fiji's representation in the Working Group has been through my Permanent Secretary, Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs, International Cooperation & Civil Aviation and Permanent Secretary for Justice," he stated to Dr Sevele.

"Additionally, Fiji has made presentations to the Working Group involving other line Ministries and Departments based on ad-hoc requests."

Commodore Bainimarama said the Governments of Australia and New Zealand have continued to procrastinate the recognition of existence of an Interim Government in Fiji led by him, even after the Working Group's 30th Meeting on June 19th and following on from all regular meetings and engagements at Senior Officials Level.
"Largely influenced by Australia and New Zealand, the Working Group has continued to not appreciate the existence of genuine initiatives and efforts of the Interim Government to take Fiji forward such as the National Council for Building a Better Fiji and the proposal to develop a People's Charter for Change, Peace and Progress," he said.
" If anything, they have also tried to frustrate our efforts by consistently penalizing anybody stepping in to help the Interim Government move forward, with a travel ban."

" All this leads me to wonder whether or not Australia and New Zealand are genuinely interested in engaging with Fiji either bilaterally or through the regional mediums such as the Working Group."

Commodore Bainimarama said he has raised this issue with Dr Sevele, particularly emphasizing the adverse effects such travel bans have on Fiji's efforts to institute good governance practices for moving the country forward.

The PM said he was sorry to have arrived at such a decision, but the circumstances and the extreme stance of both Australia and New Zealand have compelled Fiji to adopt this position.

ENDS

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