9 April 2009
Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma today deplored the abrogation of the Republic of Fiji Islands' Constitution following yesterday's judgement by the Fiji Court of Appeal. That judgement declared the appointment of the Interim Government led by Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama to be unlawful, and advised the President to appoint a caretaker Prime Minister to take the country to elections.
"The abrogation of the Constitution, the dismissal of the judiciary and the postponement of elections until 2014 are retrograde steps which take Fiji further away from the return to civilian constitutional democratic rule which the Commonwealth had been urging," Mr Sharma said.
The Secretary-General had earlier issued a statement noting the Court of Appeal judgement and encouraging the military and political leaders in Fiji to act with respect for the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary, and free democratic processes in implementing the letter and the spirit of the court judgement, and the actions to follow.
"These unwelcome developments are a clear new breach of fundamental Commonwealth political values and are unacceptable. These developments strike at the root of the rule of law, which is the cornerstone of the values supported by the Commonwealth. The Foreign Ministers on the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group will now be consulted to determine the timing of a CMAG meeting as soon as practicable."
"Very sadly and regrettably, the spirit and intent of the Fiji Court of Appeal judgement have not been honoured, and instead a new period of uncertainty and delay has been created. I encourage the leadership of Fiji, and in particular the security services, to demonstrate the utmost respect for human rights in the current situation of constitutional and political uncertainty. The constitutional rule of law must be re-established as a priority along with elections as envisaged by the Court of Appeal," the Secretary-General said.
"The Commonwealth is always ready to assist with constitutional, legal, and other expertise required to support peaceful constitutional democracy in any member country. Its restoration is the right of all Fijians," the Secretary-General concluded.