Pacific Islands Forum-Fiji Joint Working Group on the Situation in Fiji20 November 2008, Forum Secretariat, Suva


The Working Group held its thirty-third meeting at the Forum Secretariat Headquarters in Suva on 20 November 2008, attended by senior officials from Australia, Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, New Zealand, Republic of the Marshall Islands and Tuvalu.

The Working Group received a paper from Fiji detailing reasons why Fiji would not be able to hold elections by March 2009. Fiji clarified to the Working Group that there was no definite proposed timing for elections, as the Interim Government's position was that this was dependent on the outcome of the political dialogue process and related factors. Working Group members reaffirmed the readiness of Forum members to continue to assist Fiji prepare for elections by March 2009, in accordance with the decision of Forum Leaders.

Working Group members queried the means by which the Interim Government intended to conduct electoral reform, and noted the Interim Government's position that any mechanism for Constitutional change would be determined through the political dialogue process. The Working Group discussed the legal requirements for Constitutional change and the importance of ensuring that any such change was conducted in a legal manner.

The Working Group also discussed the purposes and progress of the political dialogue process. Working Group members indicated that they were considering the request from the Interim Prime Minister for support for that process. The Working Group welcomed Fiji's offer to arrange for Mr Robin Nair, independent interlocutor to the political dialogue process, to brief the Working Group at its next meeting.

The Working Group further discussed possible revision of its Terms of Reference, and agreed on a proposed revised text which would be referred to capitals for consideration in advance of the Working Group's next meeting.

The Working Group discussed preparations for the upcoming Ministerial Contact Group visit in December.

The Working Group will hold its next meeting on 4 December 2008.