Pacific Islands Forum-Fiji Joint Working Group on the Situation in Fiji6 November 2008, Forum Secretariat, Suva


The Working Group held its thirty-second meeting at the Forum Secretariat Headquarters in Suva on 6 November 2008, attended by senior officials from Australia, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Republic of the Marshall Islands and Tuvalu.

The Working Group expressed its regret at the withdrawal from the Working Group, due to other work commitments, of the Permanent Secretary for the Prime Minister's Office, Mr Parmesh Chand. The Working Group thanked Mr Chand for his considerable work in facilitating relations between the Forum and the Interim Government to date. The Working Group welcomed Ratu Isoa Gavidi, Permanent Secretary of Foreign Affairs, as the new leader of Fiji's delegation to the Working Group, and looked forward to continued open and constructive communication between the Working Group and the Interim Government through the Permanent Secretaries of Foreign Affairs and Justice.

The Working Group noted the letter of 19 September 2008 from Interim Prime Minister Bainimarama to the Forum Chair, Premier Talagi of Niue, advising that Fiji was prepared to re-engage with the Working Group, and would welcome a visit by the Ministerial Contact Group before the end of 2008.

The Working Group welcomed the Interim Prime Minister's willingness to re-engage with the Forum, and expressed its readiness to engage in dialogue and to work constructively toward a way forward, reaffirming the good will of all members of the Forum to assist each other in challenging times. The Working Group acknowledged that the Forum process is a key means by which Fiji can be assisted to return to parliamentary democracy in the shortest practicable time.

The Working Group discussed recent developments in the situation in Fiji, particularly the political parties' meeting convened by the Fiji Interim Government on 27 October. The Working Group welcomed the commitment of the Interim Government and the political parties to the process, recalling Forum Leaders' support for independent and inclusive dialogue, without preconditions, as an essential element in resolving the Fiji situation, complementary to the implementation of Fiji's commitments to the Forum on elections. Working Group members encouraged all concerned to continue working on the development of a credible political dialogue process, with the greatest possible momentum.

The Working Group discussed the Interim Prime Minister's request that the Group develop new terms of reference, and received a proposed addendum from Fiji to the Working Group's Terms of Reference. The Working Group noted the issues raised in Fiji's proposal, and agreed to consider possible revision of the Terms of Reference for further discussion at its next meeting.

The Working Group discussed initial preparations for the proposed visit by the Ministerial Contact Group in December 2008.

The Working Group will hold its next meeting on 20 November 2008.