Commonwealth Envoy to Meet Fiji's Military Rulers
09 September 2009
A senior Commonwealth envoy is holding a series of meetings with Fiji's
military leaders as part of renewed international efforts to restore
democracy. Former New Zealand Governor-General Paul Reeves is expected
to urge the South Pacific nation to reinstate political freedoms and
|Paul Reeves (file photo)|
Fiji may have been
temporarily cast out of the Commonwealth but the grouping of former
British colonies remains keen to offer help and guidance to this
troubled corner of the South Pacific.
Paul Reeves, hopes his visit will
ensure that the two sides maintain a workable relationship.
meetings Wednesday and Thursday with Fiji's leaders, he will stress a
familiar message - that the government should restore constitutional
democracy as soon as possible.
The military will almost
certainly offer a polite refusal. It has repeatedly ignored
international pressure since it seized power more than two-and-a-half
The Commonwealth's special representative is
expected to hold two days of talks, including a meeting with army chief
and interim prime minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama.
say that poverty and ill-health are rising sharply in Fiji as
government money is diverted from social welfare programs to the
A community worker in the capital Suva, who was too frightened to divulge her name, says many Fijians are becoming desperate.
have people coming here every day at our gate asking for clothes and
food, every day coming at the gate," she said. "People that we don't
know standing out there [asking] do we have food to spare? That has
never happened to Fiji but it is happening now."
2006, troops ousted an elected government, alleging it was corrupt and
pursued a racist agenda against Fiji's ethnic Indian minority.
Commodore Bainimarama has promised to hold elections within five years
following a review of the constitution.
|Fiji's military chief Commodore Bainimarama being sworn in as interim PM during ceremony in Suva, 11 Apr 2009|
His critics accuse him
of behaving like a dictator while the economy slides into recession.
Dissidents have been arrested and the news media censored under the
The military administration does have some
friends. China has become one of Fiji's biggest foreign donors. Amnesty
International has criticized this relationship, saying in a report that
China ignores the perilous condition of human rights in the Fijian