Pacific Islands Forum condemns Fiji takeover

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Toke Talagi, the Pacific Islands Forum chairman and Premier of Niue, has condemned the Fijian president's decision to abrogate the constitution.

"I condemn the actions of the military regime in Fiji to date, the abrogation of the Constitution and reappointment of members of the previous Interim Government in direct contravention of Fiji law as determined by the Court of Appeal on 9th April 2009," Mr Talagi said.

"The hopes and aspirations of many in Fiji and the wider region, just briefly raised by the Court of Appeal decision on 9 April, have been dashed by the unilateral and irresponsible actions of President Iloilo and Commodore Bainimarama."

President Ratu Josefa Iloilo abrogated the country's constitution and revoked all judicial appointments last Friday in response to a Court of Appeal decision declaring the removal of Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase and the appointment of military strongman Voreqe Bainimarama as interim Prime Minister unlawful.

The Forum has pressed Fiji for a return to democracy, and in January set a deadline for Fiji to set a date for elections to be held this year. Now Talagi has written to other Pacific leaders seeking their views on whether Fiji should be immediately suspended from the Forum.

"I want to also ascertain from them whether we should take the actions that have been agreed to in Papua New Guinea at the beginning of this year with respect to the suspension of the interim regime from taking part in any of the forum meetings and so on," he said.

Several Pacific leaders now see Fiji's suspension as inevitable. "The reality is that unless there is some miraculous turn around of events, Fiji is going to be suspended by the forum in roughly two weeks," said New Zealand Prime Minister John Key.

Samoan Prime Minister Tuila’epa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi agrees. "Membership of Fiji in the Forum organisation should be ended," he said.

He called upon Fijian church leaders to approach Bainimarama and tell him that what he is doing is wrong.

Bainimarama was reappointed as Fijian Prime Minister on Saturday.

Fiji's government was overthrown by a military coup in 2006.