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Pacific Forum Clarifies Fiji PM's Commitments

Pacific Forum Clarifies Commitments By Fiji Interim PM

The Pacific Islands Forum says the commitments made by the interim Prime Minister of Fiji at the Forum Leaders’ Retreat in Tonga last year for elections to be held in March 2009 were not forced on him as has been claimed.

The Forum Outgoing Chair and Prime Minister of Tonga, Hon. Dr Feleti Sevele made the clarification at the opening of the 39th Pacific Islands Forum in Alofi, Niue this afternoon.

“Unfortunately, the Forum’s relationship with the interim government of Fiji has now deteriorated from the apparent, promising situation at the Forum last year in Tonga, to one of disappointment and of an uncertain future,” says Mr Sevele.

“As Forum Leaders, we are all extremely disappointed at the interim Prime Minister’s decision not to attend this Forum meeting.”

Mr Sevele continued: “As Chair of last year’s Forum Meeting in Tonga and Chair of the last 12 months, let me place on record that fact that the commitments that Commodore Bainimarama made at the Leaders’ Retreat were not forced on him, as has been claimed.”

“He agreed with and accepted the 7-point communiqué on Fiji, and so told all the Leaders present at the Retreat. Sir Michael and I certainly did not pressure him into making those commitments.

“We, and all the Leaders, were, and are, keen on helping Fiji move forward, but Fiji has to play its due part,” Prime Minister Sevele said.

“The interim Prime Minister has an obligation to explain in person to the Forum Leaders as to why he could not fulfill those commitments, and we were all looking forward to his doing this at this Forum in Niue. That he chose not to do this is most unfortunate and most disappointing.”

Mr Sevele said the Forum Leaders will address the Fiji situation together with the Report of the Ministerial Contact Group on Fiji.

The Outgoing Forum Chair expressed the Forum’s appreciation to the Prime Minister of Solomon Islands, Hon. Dr Derek Sikua for his leadership and understanding, and pledged the Forum Leaders’ continuing support through the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) and other Forum assistance programme.

The former Government of Solomon Islands boycotted the Forum last year in Tonga because of differences between the Government and the Forum over RAMSI.

“The stability of the Solomon Islands was in question, and the continued presence of RAMSI was being challenged. But, fortunately for the region, relations have improved enormously since the change of government in Honiara last December.

“And for this I wish to place on record the Forum Leaders’ appreciation to your Hon Prime Minister Sikua for your leadership and understanding,” Prime Minister Sevele said.

The Pacific Islands Forum Leaders have concluded the plenary session after the opening ceremony and will go on their retreat at the Matavi Resort outside of the Niuean capital Alofi tomorrow Wednesday.


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