UN Chief deplores ditching of Fiji's Constitution, calls for legitimate government

10 April 2009 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed dismay on Friday at the decision to scrap Fiji's Constitution and the clear attempt by the country's unelected executive to prolong rule by setting a new five-year time frame for parliamentary elections in 2014.

The South Pacific archipelago's leadership also declared a public emergency and fired the country's judges in a move following Fiji's Court of Appeal ruling yesterday that the 2006 ousting of the elected Government was illegal and the appointment of the interim Government unconstitutional.

In a statement attributable to his spokesperson, Mr. Ban said he “strongly deplores these steps and calls for urgent action towards their reversal.” He also called for the restoration of a legitimate government and constitutional order.

“The latest measures are a clear rejection of the legal process,” the Secretary-General's statement read, adding that the actions take by Fiji's leadership run contrary to “the stated common objective of returning the country to an elected government as soon as possible.”

In February, the United Nations was requested, along with the Commonwealth, to broker an “inclusive, independent and time-bound” political dialogue, after parliamentary elections scheduled for last month were postponed.

The country's Prime Minister, Josaia Bainimarama, told the General Assembly's high-level annual debate in September 2008 that the country would not be able to hold parliamentary elections by March 2009, as previously scheduled, because it first must reform its electoral system.

The island chain has suffered prolonged internal tensions between its indigenous Fijian and Indo-Fijian communities, and had four coups since 1987. Mr. Bainimarama, commander of Fiji's military forces, came to power in a coup in December 2006, sparking criticism from the UN at the time.


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