SOS: Qarase begs Forum help
Fiji’s ousted Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase has written to the leaders of the Pacific Islands Forum requesting their intervention in returning Fiji to democratic rule.Qarase said “the longer Fiji is burdened with an authoritarian government, lacking in constitutional and legal legitimacy, the greater will be our national decline”.
“I therefore entreat the Forum leaders to use all the diplomatic, political and moral authority at your disposal, to bring Fiji back to respectability and legality.”
He said: “The people of Fiji will owe the Forum a lasting debt of gratitude if it can prevail upon Commodore (Voreqe) Bainimarama and his regime to stand by their Nukua’lofa obligation. There is no reason whatsoever why an election cannot be held by March 2009”.
In a statement today, Qarase said he had written earlier this month to the Pacific leaders in his capacity as the leader of Fiji’s largest political party, which won the 2006 elections, to brief them on the current situation in Fiji.
He wrote that the 2006 insurrection and the military regime “have widened our ethnic divisions, created bitterness and alienation and inflicted much suffering on the people”.
“They have been hurt through job losses, shrinking incomes and widening poverty. There have been countless abuses of human rights and constitutional freedoms. Cronyism and nepotism have reached unprecedented heights.
“From the Forum’s perspective, the Fiji situation represents a real challenge.”
Qarase said it is shameful for the Commodore not to honour the election pledge he made in Tonga.
“Never, in the history of the Forum, has a member country reneged on an assurance freely given to the Island leaders,” he said.
“The shame of this for Fiji is that, under the leadership of Ratu Sir Kamisese Mara, we were instrumental in the founding of the Forum. It was his vision that provided the initial guiding influence.”
No comments could be obtained from Commodore Bainimarama at this stage.