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Coalition for Democracy in Fiji calls for NZ Government to take a stronger stand

17 July 2000

The Auckland-based Coalition for Democracy in Fiji (CDF) is requesting an urgent meeting with New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr Phil Goff.

"We believe Phil Goff must do more than take a "wait and see" attitude, which has done nothing to restrain the hostage-takers, their supporters, and the forces in the military who support them" said CDF Spokesperson Maire Leadbeater.

"There has always been a clear alternative to accommodating the hostage takers. The newly appointed President, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, must be impressed upon to restore the 1997 Constitution and work within its legal framework."

Ms Leadbeater went on to say, "The elected Prime Minister, Mr Mahendra Chaudhry, and his People's Coalition Government, which was elected by the majority of Fiji people, has demanded to be re-instated together with the 1997 Constitution. This call has been supported by a wide-section of the community including, amongst others, the Fiji Trade Union movement, the Citizens Constitutional Forum, the Women's Rights Movement and the National Council of Women."

"New Zealand must support this stance to uphold democracy in Fiji, and Mr Goff must speak out on behalf of the majority of Fiji's people."

CDF also wants the New Zealand government to do all it can to protect the safety of members of the People's Coaltion government and pro-democracy campaigners and supporters.

"We are acutely fearful for the safety of the former hostages, as well as all those who have been campaigning for the legitimate government to be reinstated," said CDF spokesperson Maire Leadbeater. "Over the last few weeks, the Fiji Security Forces have demonstrated their total inability to maintain law and order - so who is there to protect those people who are upholding the democratic rights of ordinary Fiji people?"

CDF will also urge Mr Goff to condemn the Fiji military for its capitulation to George Speight and the hostage-takers.

"In an effort to free the hostages, in signing the Muanikau Accord with the hostage takers, the Fiji Military has fully capitulated to George Speight's demands", Ms Leadbeater said. "This is further indicated by the agreed terms of amnesty, which has allowed George Speight and his supporters to carry out acts of treason and anarchy that will go unpunished".

Ms Leadbeater also called on the immediate withdrawl of all Fiji soldiers on peacekeeping duties overseas. She asked New Zealand to end all military co-operation with Fiji. "There are Fiji soldiers still studying and training in New Zealand - they should be sent back to Fiji immediately."

"This is a time for strong diplomatic actions. Fiji is descending into the same pariah status as South Africa under apartheid. New Zealand must press the United Nations Security Council to convene urgently and for economic sanctions to be carefully considered. Also, the New Zealand government should ask the United Nations to order Fiji Army personnel in it's peacekeeping forces to be withdrawn from around the world immediately."

New Zealand has a responsibility to take a leading role in regional and international forums, especially in it's neighbouring Pacific Island states. The deteriorating situation in Fiji will have implications in the wider-Pacific region. New Zealand must stand firm on the basic principles of equality and social justice.

"We believe New Zealand should take a lead in the South Pacific in mobilising support for democracy in Fiji, and to the opposition to any proposed illegal regime".

CDF also want Sporting bans on Fiji to be maintained, and Travel Bans to New Zealand of the Fiji Coup hostage takers and their supporters to be actively enforced.

For more information, please contact Maire Leadbeater on telephone 025-436957, 376 9098 and/or Nik Naidu on 021-2559955. CDF, PO Box 52-089, Kingsland, Auckland, New Zealand Fax + 64 9 815 3113,

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