By Sarah E. Treptow
Impunity Watch Reporter, Oceania
SUVA, Fiji – Fiji’s Interim Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama, has warned ousted Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase, that his SDL party might not be included in the proposed President’s Political Forum if the party continues to criticize the interim government.
Spokesman for the SDL, Ted Young, says it is nothing that has not been said before but his party is surprised by the response, “The threats of excluding SDL from the forum would be a very counter-productive move, in fact the forum will not achieve its purpose if the biggest political party is absent from the Forum and it will be an unwise move on the part of the interim regime and Bainimarama to exclude SDL.”
Mr. Young believes the threat is a reaction of comments made by Mr. Qarase who is in Australia. Mr. Qarase has been unable to leave Fiji since he was charged with abuse of office after his government was overthrown in December of 2006. However, the High Court in Fiji altered his bail restrictions this week, allowing him to travel abroad as long as he is in Fiji in early March for his case’s hearing. He is in Australia lobbying for support of the SDL party and visiting family.
Meanwhile, the Fiji political situation will be discussed at a meeting of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) in London next week. CMAG will meet in London next week to discuss Fiji and whether further measures need to be taken in light of the interim Government’s refusal to adhere to the May 1 elections deadline. Fiji was suspended from the Councils of the Commonwealth immediately following the 2006 coup.
For more information, please see:
Fiji Times – CMAG to discuss Fiji at London meet – 27 February 2009
Radio New Zealand International – Fiji interim regime threat undermines planned political forum – 24 February 2009
Fiji Daily Post – Qarase seeks help in Australia – 17 February 2009
World News Australia – Qarase free to visit Australia: reports – 12 February 2009