26 May 2004

Fiji Labour Party codemns Commonwealth's removal of Fiji from watch list

9:28 am on 26 May 2004

The Fiji Labour Party has condemned the decision of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) to remove Fiji from its permanent watch list.

The decision was made at the weekend with the Commonwealth secretary-general, Don McKinnon, saying Fiji had made considerable progress in the areas of democracy, peace and development since the coup.

Mr McKinnon also welcomed the ongoing "talanoa" talks between the government and the Labour Party brokered by the Hawaii-based East-West Centre.

But the Labour leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, says CMAG did not carry out any research on the situation in Fiji and did not consult all parties concerned.

Mr Chaudhry says the decision did not take into account state-sponsored racism and breach of human rights that was rampant in Fiji in violation of the Commonwealth's own Harare Declaration.

But the prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, has welcomed the decision, saying it will enable Fiji to normalise its relations with Commonwealth countries. END