Commonwealth urges Fiji to return to democratic rule
The United Kingdom's Queen Elizabeth II, the head of the Commonwealth, surrounded by heads of government of the 54
member states of the Commonwealth at the opening of the 2011 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth,
The Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Perth, Western Australia has urged Fiji’s interim government to return the country to democratic rule.
The appeal was part of a 13-page communiqué which the leaders from the group’s 54 member states signed off on Sunday to conclude the three-day summit.
“To actively promote, uphold, preserve and defend the fundamental values, principles and aspirations of the Commonwealth. Heads agreed to do this by…urging the interim government of Fiji to restore democracy without further delay, to respect human rights, and to uphold the rule of law, and reaffirming that the Commonwealth should continue to remain engaged with Fiji and support efforts towards that end,” read the declaration.
PNG Prime Minister Peter O’Neill, who was among the 54 leaders at the conference in Perth, told Radio Australia earlier the Fiji interim government was implementing land and electoral reforms which were well received by Fijians but the country still needed a democratically-elected government.
“These are noble reforms that he (Fiji interim Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama) is pursuing. But you know, as we say that whilst that may be the case, I think it is important that Fiji has a democratically-elected government and Papua New Guinea will say that in a very firm manner in the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting,” he said.
Solomon Islands, one of three Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) states at the CHOGM, had called for Fiji to be re admitted to the Commonwealth. While it is not known if the three MSG states in the 2011 CHOGM – PNG, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu – flew into Perth with a common agenda to push for Fiji’s return to the fold, their attempts would have been futile with the global grouping’s varying interests and agenda.
PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill having discussions with the Australian Opposition Leader Tony Abbott on the sidelines of
the 2011 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Perth, Western Australia.
Veteran PNG politician Sir Michael Somare, who was a regular at CHOGMs during his 16 years as Prime Minister at different times in PNG’s history, was a notable absentee following the toppling of his government in August this year. However his successor Mr O’Neill used the opportunity to meet other leaders including Australian Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.
“PNG has had an excellent relationship with Australia under all past governments including Labour and Liberal and I am certain this meeting will further consolidate that relationship,” the PM said after the discussions
It is understood Mr O’Neill will make a stopover today in Brisbane to meet with the Queensland Premier Anna Bligh before returning to Port Moresby.
Australian PM Julia Gillard said the 2011 CHOGM approved significant reforms but member states continued to differ on human rights, with the failure to set up a Commonwealth human rights commissioner an example of the conflicting views.