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WELLINGTON, New Zealand (RNZI, Apr. 7) – The Fiji Prime Minister says he is opposed to the idea of giving nongovernmental groups access to the leaders’ meeting at the Pacific Islands Forum.

Laisenia Qarase made the comment in Auckland in response to calls for the Forum to focus on four key areas: security, governance, economic progress and sustainable development.

The new outlook is also aimed at taking into account views of non-government organizations.

Mr Qarase says civil society groups seeking to take up issues with the Forum should use the secretariat and not the leader’s meeting.

"My main concern about civil society is that a lot of them are funded by foreign governments and by international organizations. And they are imposing some of the foreign values on Pacific societies."

Meanwhile, Tonga’s acting Prime Minister, Clive Edwards, expressed similar concern about public interest groups turning up in Forum sessions.

He said Tonga would be against giving opportunities to a group such as Tonga’s Human Rights and Democracy Movement.

"They are involved in activities that are highly questionable and have been the subject of police prosecutions, of seditious conduct and making trouble rather than addressing issues. These are some of the things that are happening in Fiji, in Tonga, and possibly in Australia."

April 8, 2004

Radio New Zealand International:


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