|FIJI'S FINEST? Think not. Bainimarama, second left, and his officers at the state funeral for Josefa Iloilo in February.|
They coat themselves in medals but they're the reason for the international sanctions and for Fiji continuing to be locked out of the Pacific Islands Forum.
The 40th Forum ended yesterday with the decision Fiji should remain suspended, although it was agreed it could poke its head in the door at the Pacer Plus discussions.
New Zealand and Australian prime ministers John Key and Julia Gillard rightfully withstood lobbying by the small island states, particularly the Melanesian countries who were in Nadi last week, to readmit the unelected government of Frank Bainimarama to the biggest annual gathering of the year. As was expected and as should be the case.
Below, the decisions that regard Fiji in particular from the Leaders communique after their retreat yesterday.
30. Leaders acknowledged the Forum’s ongoing work to encourage and support Fiji’s return to parliamentary democracy in accordance with the Leaders’ mandates and the Biketawa Declaration, cognisant of the Leaders’ decisions at Port Moresby and Cairns in 2009, and Port Vila in 2010.
31. Leaders welcomed the convening of the Ministerial Contact Group (MCG) meeting held in Port Vila on 14 February 2011 but expressed disappointment that a visit by the MCG to Fiji did not occur prior to the Forum Leaders’ meeting and called for a visit to take place as soon as possible, involving meetings with a range of stakeholders. Leaders tasked the MCG to continue dialogue and engagement with Fiji and report to the next Leaders’ meeting.
32. Leaders reiterated their call for commencement of genuine, inclusive political dialogue in Fiji between parties without preconditions or predetermined outcomes. In doing so, they also reaffirmed the underlying values of the Forum, namely respect for democracy, good governance and the rule of law, and expressed their continuing deep concern at the deteriorating human rights situation and serious political and economic challenges facing the people of Fiji.
33. Leaders reaffirmed the clear commitment of all Forum members to encourage and support Fiji’s early return to parliamentary democracy, including their standing offer of practical assistance in addressing the challenges faced by Fiji.
34. Leaders agreed to permit Fiji to participate in PACER Plus meetings at officials-level only, given Fiji’s important economic role and links to prospects for broader regional economic integration.