NEXT FIJI TALANOA TALKS IN DOUBT

SUVA, Fiji Islands (August 8, 2002 – Daily Post)---The Talanoa talks scheduled to take place this weekend are in doubt.

Yesterday, The Daily Post learned that the conveners of the Talanoa talks were trying to get a flight back home.

Sources close to the Talanoa sub-committee last night said the aborted talks may be linked to the racist remarks made in the House of Representatives recently.

It is believed that certain members feel that if there is no real mood for reconciliation then the talks are just hollow.

Sources hinted that some members were going to the Talanoa talks just for show.

The facilitator of the Talanoa talks, Dr. Sitiveni Halapua (Director, Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center, Honolulu, Hawai‘i), said he was still talking to both parties to come to a decision on the timing of the meeting.

Dr. Halapua said the talks were scheduled to take place this weekend at the Outrigger Resort.

"As it is, I am still talking to both parties," he said.

"A statement will be made on the subject later this week."

He neither confirmed nor denied claims that the talks have been called off.

Rounds of Talanoa talks have been taking place in the country following the political crisis in 2000 in an attempt to bring unity and understanding on important issues among different political leaders here.

Recently, sub-committees were formed by each party to tackle the long-standing land problem and Constitution issues.

Both Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase and Labour leader Mahendra Chaudhry took a leading role in the discussions during the Talanoa sessions.

Dr. Halapua had earlier commended the two leaders for their initiatives and the role they played during the talks.

He had said the leaders were working equally hard in making attempts to reach a consensus agreement on a number of important issues relating to the country’s development.

For additional reports from Fiji’s Daily Post, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Other News Resources/FijiLive.

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