SUVA, Fiji — At last year’s Pacific Island Forum, Fiji’s interim Government assured Pacific leaders that democratic elections would return to Fiji by 2009. Recent statements by the interim government have called into question whether this timetable is still viable. Specifically, many interim Government officials have stressed the importance of completing the People’s Charter in order to resolve the “underlying problems of Fiji” first before commencing with Democratic elections.
Fanning these concerns are statements like those made by Archbishop Petero Mataca at a meeting of the NCBBF. Mataca said that delays in enacting the People’s Charter could mean delays in elections. This despite interim Prime Minister Bainimarama’s statements at the same conference that elections were still on schedule for March 2009.
The Australian Foreign Minister expressed the fear of the Australian government saying that they are concerned that the People’s Charter is thought to be more important than movements towards democratic elections. The Australian government reiterated that the travel bans that are currently in effect against Fiji will remain until democratic elections take place.
In response to Australia’s statement, interim Finance Minister Mahendra Chaudhry said that Fiji should be allowed to deal with it’s internal matters in its own way. Reiterating Bainimarama’s statements about Fiji’s “coup culture”, Chaundhry told reporters that Fiji is attempting to address the problems that have lead to Fiji having four coups in the last twenty years.
For more information, please see:
Fiji Village — Let Us Resolve it Ourselves says Chaundhry — 31 March 2008
Fiji Broadcasting Corporation Limited — Australia skeptical about Fiji — 31 March 2008
Fiji Times — State in disarray say leaders — 30 March 2008
Radio New Zealand International — Ousted Fiji leader says election timing messages confusing — 30 March 2008