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Security Council Worried About Looming Fiji Coup

Security Council Worried About Possible Coup D’etat In Fiji

By Andreas von Warburg

UNITED NATIONS - The alarming situation in Fiji has officially entered the agenda of the United Nations Security Council. The President of the Council for the month of November, Ambassador Jorge Voto-Bernales of Peru, has expressed the worries of the 15-member Council about the challenges posed by the Fiji Military Commander to the Government of Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase, who has for the first time conceded to the demands of the army and agreed to withdraw two controversial bills from the legislative programme.

“The members of the Security Council welcome and support the efforts being made in the region to encourage restraint and to achieve agreement between the parties to the dispute, and call upon the Fiji military to exercise restraint and avoid taking any action that would undermine the rule of law and run counter to the best interests of the people of Fiji,” a press statement of the Security Council says. “They believe that a peaceful and lasting resolution of current political differences according to Fiji’s Constitution is to the benefit of Fiji and the region.”

Earlier in the week, outgoing Secretary-General Kofi Annan placed a call to Prime Minister Qarase expressing his worries about the continued possibility of a military coup d’état against the legitimate Government. He also stressed that further prolongation of the crisis may damage Fiji’s international standing as an important contributor to United Nations peacekeeping operations and more recently as a member of the Peacebuilding Commission. Very recently, in fact, Fiji Foreign Minister Kaliopate Tavola was quoted to say that the country has become eligible for campaigning for a non–permanent seat in the Security Council. Tavola, according to recent press reports, said by virtue of its status as an inaugural member of the Peacebuilding Commission, Fiji would be eligible from 2011.

The Secretary-General has also encouraged the parties to continue their search for a peaceful reconciliation of their differences within the constitutional framework – a statement reads – and stands ready to complement national and regional efforts aimed at overcoming the crisis through dialogue.”

During yesterday noon briefing, Annan’s spokesperson underscored that, in the event of a coup d’etat, soldiers who may take part in the unlawful seizure of power would most likely be unwelcome in UN missions. At the moment Fiji counts 275 troops serving in UN peacekeeping operations.

to the island nation's military demands, agreeing to withdrawing two controversial bills from the legislative programme, sacking police commissioner Andrew Hughes (an Australian) and agreeing to ensure those convicted of being involved with the George Speight coup in 2000 remain behind bars.

ENDS

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