Intervention in Fiji opposed

Fiji Times
November 28 2006

SUVA, Non-government organizations in Fiji have condemned possible regional intervention in the worsening standoff between the Government and the military, saying this move threatens the country's sovereignty and the rule of law.

A coalition of Fiji non-government organizations called Citizens for Peace has called on decision makers to work with national processes and mediation "instead of encouraging regional forces to play a part."

"We need to solve our problems using lawful processes and democratic institutions such as the courts, and civil society. This is the essence of the rule of law," said Concerned Citizens for Peace member and head of the Fiji Women's Rights Movement Virisila Buadromo. "This situation calls for skilled mediators, with intimate knowledge of the law and the local context, who can negotiate with all parties and bring this situation to a peaceful close."

Concerned Citizens for Peace say regional armed intervention would greatly exacerbate the current tensions, threaten Fijis sovereignty, and the rule of law. The group believes such action would endanger Fiji's citizens, their livelihoods and their way of life.

"We, Fiji Islanders, wish to solve our problems using the rule of law. This might involve challenging legislation that is unconstitutional or in violation of human rights, as has been done before, or voting out a government in a general election - but not by supporting the illegal removal of a government through the rule of the gun," Ms Buadromo said.

One way to resolve the crisis is to expand the membership of the National Security Council to include the military, police, women peace-builders and other members of civil society, the non-government organizations suggest.

"Half the problem has been that these discussions, between the Government, the military and the police, have been happening in public - through the media," said Ms Buadromo.


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