Pacific Islands Forum congratulates membership-suspended Fiji on successful election

Shanghai Daily:

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

SUVA, Sept. 24 (Xinhua) -- The Pacific Islands Forum (PIF) on Wednesday said it congratulates the government and people of Fiji for the "successful conduct and results" of the South Pacific island country's "historic" 2014 General Election.

"The election marks a critical turning point for Fiji's return to democracy and is warmly welcomed by the secretariat," said a statement of the Pacific Islands Forum's secretariat, located in the Fijian capital of Suva.

Secretary General Tuiloma Neroni Slade said he has written to congratulate Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama on his election and appointment, and on the resounding success of Fiji's national election, according to the statement.

Bainimarama, who resigned as the Fiji military's commander in March, is the leader of the country's 2006 coup, which he calls a "revolution."

"The people of Fiji must be commended for their full participation in this historic election of leaders and representatives, culminating in results that reflect the will and mandate of the Fijian people," Slade said, acknowledging the fine work of the country's Electoral Commission and officials as well as the Multinational Observer Group, led by Australia, Indonesia, and India.

The Pacific Islands Forum has suspended Fiji from the group since May 2, 2009 on grounds that the country failed to announce the date of the general election by the May 1, 2009 deadline.

Faced with the estrangement of the Pacific Islands Forum, Fiji, with the support of a number of fellow Pacific island neighbors and other friendly countries, established the Pacific Islands Development Forum (PIDF), the secretariat of which is also in Suva. To date, two PIDF Summits have been held.

In February, the Pacific Islands Forum' s Ministerial Contact Group paid a two-day visit to Fiji, saying the visit is consistent with the mandate of Pacific Islands Forum leaders to continue to dialogue and engage with Fiji.

When Xinhua asked for comments on the establishment of the PIDF, Murray McCully, New Zealand's Minister of Foreign Affairs and chair of the group said "we don't discuss that."

Read story: Shanghai Daily

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