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‘BIKETAWA’ APPROACH URGED IN FIJI-TONGA STANDOFF Fiji Citizens’ Constitutional Forum makes call

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (RNZI, May 23, 2011) - Fiji’s Citizens’ Constitutional Forum is calling for the Pacific Islands Forum to consider initiating the Biketawa Declaration to deal with the current Fiji-Tonga diplomatic impasse.

Fiji is awaiting a reply from Tonga after sending its prime minister an application for the extradition of Lieutenant Colonel Tevita Mara, who is wanted on sedition charges.

[PIR editor’s note: According to a news release from the Tonga Prime Minister’s Office, no application for extradition had been received as of May 21.]

The Biketawa Declaration was agreed by Pacific Islands Forum countries in 2000, and outlines guiding principles for good governance and courses of action for a regional response to crises.

The Citizens’ Constitutional Forum’s executive director, the Reverend Akuila Yabaki, says there must be consensus between the two countries on any resolution.

"This is to stop what could be a likely deterioration in the historical relationship. It involves people of chiefly status, in this country, it could involve the vanua, the military as well, and I think we should get into the diplomatic relations issues, and it could be handled quite peacefully."

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