COMMONWEALTH TO NAME MEDIATOR FOR FIJI

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Would help facilitate any move towards democracy

SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, Dec. 14, 2008) – The Commonwealth is in the process of identifying a mediator for Fiji’s proposed President’s Political Dialogue Forum, says Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma.

Sharma has reaffirmed the Commonwealth’s commitment to assist Fiji in the restoration of constitutional civilian democracy.

According to the official website of the Commonwealth, Sharma said: "I have spoken to Interim Fiji Prime Minister Commodore Bainimarama on a number of occasions, emphasising the Commonwealth’s objective to see the timely return of democratic rule in Fiji, and our willingness to support an inclusive and broad-based political dialogue. In co-operation with the United Nations we are identifying a mediator, who is acceptable to all stakeholders, to facilitate the proposed President’s Dialogue Forum. We are also continuing to develop and discuss the proposed terms of reference for the President’s Dialogue Forum as requested."

The Secretary-General also welcomed the visit to Fiji last week by the Pacific Islands Forum Ministerial Contact Group.

"The Commonwealth is committed to working with the Pacific Islands Forum, the United Nations and other partners in assisting Fiji to find a political way forward."

The Secretary-General recalled that Fiji has been under consideration by the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) since the military overthrow of the democratically elected Government in December 2006. At its last meeting in September 2008, CMAG reiterated the need for elections to be held in Fiji by March 2009.

"I remain in contact with the Chair of CMAG as our efforts continue to support the restoration of civilian constitutional rule in Fiji," Sharma said. "CMAG indicated in September that it would need to meet in the new year to consider further measures, in line with Commonwealth procedures, if the situation remained unchanged. A meeting of CMAG is expected to be held early in 2009."

The Secretary-General confirmed that the Commonwealth Secretariat has remained active in working towards a political dialogue between the key stakeholders in Fiji, as requested by the President, Ratu Josefa Iloilo.

The Commonwealth is engaged with the interim Government and other stakeholders, building on the active role played by the Commonwealth Secretary-General’s Special Representative to Fiji Islands, Sir Paul Reeves.

The recent visit by a Commonwealth Secretariat official to Fiji, working together with the United Nations, was aimed at establishing the proposed President’s Dialogue Forum as soon as possible and this continues to be pursued.

"This month marks the second anniversary of the military overthrow of the democratically elected Government," Sharma said. "The Commonwealth remains deeply committed to achieving the swift restoration of civilian constitutional government in Fiji, to supporting a lasting democratic culture and sustainable development for the people of Fiji, and to the country’s reinstatement to full Commonwealth

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