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Commonwealth calls for withdrawal of military from Fiji’s govt

26 April 2013, London

1. The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) held its thirty-ninth meeting in London on 26 April 2013.

2. The meeting was chaired by Hon Dr Dipu Moni, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh. It was also attended by Senator the Hon Bob Carr, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia; Hon John Baird, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Canada; Hon A J Nicholson, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Jamaica; Hon Dr Abdul Samad Abdullah, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Maldives; Hon Dr Samura Kamara, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sierra Leone; Hon Bernard K Membe, Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation of Tanzania; Hon Winston Dookeran, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Trinidad and Tobago; and Hon Nipake Edward Natapei, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and External Trade of Vanuatu.

3. CMAG welcomed the recent adoption by Heads of Government, and signature by The Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, of the Charter of the Commonwealth, encapsulating the core values and principles of the Commonwealth. It noted that the Charter reaffirmed the Commonwealth’s commitment inter alia to democracy, human rights, the rule of law, separation of powers, freedom of expression, good governance, tolerance, respect and understanding and the role of civil society. As the custodian of the Commonwealth’s fundamental political values, the Group pledged to continue to promote these commonly agreed goals.

4. The Group reviewed developments in relation to the country currently on its formal agenda, Fiji.

Fiji

5. CMAG reiterated the Commonwealth’s unwavering solidarity with the people of Fiji, and CMAG’s commitment to Fiji’s reinstatement as a full member of the Commonwealth family, through the restoration of constitutional democracy, the rule of law and human rights, in accordance with the fundamental political values of the Commonwealth.

6. Ministers expressed their regret at the Government of Fiji’s diversion from the previously-agreed constitutional process, which had earlier been welcomed by CMAG and which had attracted widespread public engagement and confidence within Fiji.

7. CMAG called on the Government of Fiji to ensure that the steps now undertaken toward restoring constitutional democracy are credible and inclusive, and similarly enjoy the confidence and support of the people of Fiji, including:

a. a transparent and consultative process to achieve a constitution that accords with Commonwealth and internationally-accepted standards for democracy, good governance and the rule of law, and that genuinely enjoys the endorsement of the people of Fiji;

b. the restoration of the structures necessary for credible elections, including an independent Election Management Body;

c. the ability of political parties and candidates to contest elections freely under fair and consistent rules and on a level playing field;

d. withdrawal of the military from involvement in government; and

e. full respect for fundamental human rights and freedoms in accordance with international law and without undue restriction, including freedoms of speech, association and movement, and a free and independent media.

8. The Group expressed concern about ongoing restrictions on human rights and reports of human rights abuse in Fiji, and emphasised the necessity of full respect for human rights and the rule of law, to create the environment necessary for credible elections.

9. CMAG noted the visit to Fiji undertaken by the Pacific Islands Forum’s Ministerial Contact Group on 12 April 2013, and reaffirmed the Commonwealth’s commitment to continuing to work in co-operation with regional and international partners in relation to the Fiji situation.

10. CMAG encouraged the Commonwealth to remain engaged with Fiji in appropriate ways, including the Secretary-General’s ongoing engagement with the Government of Fiji and other stakeholders, also encompassing further exploration of options for the provision of assistance to Fiji in relation to democracy and the rule of law.

God bless Fiji