31 Jan 2007

Fiji's interim administration meets NGOs and civil society groups

10:44 am on 31 January 2007

Fiji's interim cabinet has held its first ever meeting with non-government organisations and civil society groups, most of whom have been critical of events since last month's military takeover.

The meeting was aimed at explaining the interim administration's plans and policies and improving relations with NGOs.

Radio Legend reports that 14 of the 18 NGOs attended the meeting while two refused to attend and the names of another two were missing from the list given to the security screening team.

The interim prime minister, Commodore Bainimarama, told the NGOs that some of their public comments had brought discomfort and hardened feelings, and he called on them to work constructively to take the country forward.

Father Kevin Barr of the Ecumenical Council for Research and Advocacy (ECREA) said it was a historic first meeting between NGOs and a cabinet.

Father Barr said he took the opportunity to talk to the interim ministers about some of their concerns about the poor and the marginalized.

Winston Thompson of Transparency International said they welcomed the setting up of the Anti-Corruption Commission by the interim administration and are ready help with legislation to curb corruption.