Sanctions against Fiji may sour sugar aid

Rowan Callick, Asia-Pacific editor | May 04, 2009
Article from: The Australian

FIJI faces economic sanctions from international bodies such as the European Union, which provides $70 million a year in sugar subsidies, after it was suspended from the Pacific Islands Forum.

The suspension, imposed after Fiji failed to schedule elections for this year, is the strongest action the Pacific forum has taken in its 38 years.

New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully said he expected other bodies, including the 53-nation British Commonwealth, the EU and the UN to follow the forum’s lead and isolate Fiji further.

European commissioner Louis Michel said after Frank Bainimarama abrogated Fiji’s constitution last month that if the Fiji Government honoured a pledge to hold elections this year, the EU would continue to provide financial support to rescue the sugar sector and help restore the national economy “at a time when global economic prospects are becoming increasingly difficult”.

But Mr Michel said recent developments in Fiji were unacceptable. “Commitments must be respected,” he said.

The British Commonwealth has formed a ministerial action group on Fiji, which in March gave the Pacific nation a six-month deadline to restore democracy or face full suspension of its membership. This appears certain to be triggered at the group’s next meeting, in London in September.

Commodore Bainimarama disregarded the Pacific forum’s deadline of May 1 to announce elections this year, believing at least one island nation would veto the move to suspend Fiji.

The Fijian strongman does not plan to hold elections until 2014, saying an election this year would restore the “racist” government of former prime minister Laisenia Qarase, whom he deposed in a coup in 2006.

Commodore Bainimarama flew to Bali last week to attend the Asian Development Bank’s annual meeting in an bid to demonstrate his regime’s international credibility, and has not been in Fiji since it was suspended.

Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, the Acting Prime Minister, responded to the suspension by stressing Fiji’s bilateral relations, saying Sri Lanka’s high commissioner to Canberra had recently flown to Suva to present his credentials there.

Mr Sayed-Khiayum – who is also Minister for Justice, Electoral Reform, Public Enterprises, Anti-Corruption, Tourism, Trade and Communications – said at the weekend “no suspension can sever” Fiji’s “ties with our brothers and sisters in the Pacific”.

He said the Government was ready to talk with those “who are willing to see the reality on the ground in Fiji”. And Commodore Bainimarama has written to the EU seeking to “re-engage”.

Pacific Islands Forum chairman Toke Talagi, the Prime Minister of Niue, said on Saturday, confirming the suspension: “A regime which displays such a total disregard for basic human rights, democracy and freedom has no place (in the forum).”

The Fiji regime, which is extending its emergency regulations, hopes China will put a floor under its sinking economy.

The Fiji dollar was devalued by 20 per cent last month, and international credit rating agencies Moody’s and Standard & Poor’s have downgraded Fiji’s ratings since April 10.

Commodore Bainimarama, who has intensified the militarisation of the regime since April 10, was recently awarded the country’s highest honour, the Companion of the Order of Fiji, by President Ratu Josefa Iloilo.

His 55th birthday was celebrated last week by troops bringing cake and champagne to his home. This coincided with the forced retirement, due to collapsing official revenue, of 1612 public servants who had reached 55.


Fijis suspension from the PIF was inevitable thanks to the pig headed Voreqe.

That’s not a blight on the Fijian Nation, it’s a directive to the P ig that noone is blind to his claims that he is trying to eradicate racism when he is in fact fanning the flames to incite this evil to save his bacon.

He can fool himself into thinking he has hoodwinked the rest of the world and there lies the problem, it’s him, he is the problem, noone else, not the Prime Minister Qarase nor Chaudhry it’s him the evil P ig.


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