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   Government of the Republic of Fiji

  Ministry of Foreign Affairs

    A Better Fiji through Excellence in Foreign Service

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Media Release

MINISTER KUBUABOLA'S STATEMENT ON RUDD’S RECENT COMMENTS ON FIJI

London, United Kingdom: Minister Kubuabola said he had read the Commonwealth Secretariat statement from the 28th April, 2011, CMAG meeting in London, and he had read the statement of the Australian Foreign Minister to the Press after the meeting. He said that Mr Rudd’s choice of the words “no measurable change whatsoever” in relation to Fiji’s return to parliamentary democracy were revealing in their absence from the Commonwealth Secretariat’s statement.  He said Fiji saw this as further indication that Mr Rudd was prejudiced in his views on Fiji, and that he was part of the problem, not part of the solution.

“By once again denigrating the real progress being made in Fiji towards the planned constitutional changes of 2012-13, and the General Elections of 2014,” Minister Kubuabola said, “Mr Rudd has once again demonstrated his Government’s intent to undermine the Fiji reform agenda.  Fiji can only conclude, that given his clear prejudice against Fiji’s declared Roadmap, that there is little hope for real re-engagement between the Governments of Australia and Fiji while Mr Rudd remains in office.”

Minister Kubuabola said that many countries had sent Heads of Government, Ministers and high-level envoys to Fiji to learn about Fiji’s Strategic Framework for Change, and the great majority of them had left Fiji with statements of support and encouragement for Fiji’s Roadmap.  The Roadmap sets out the steps that will be taken between now and the General Elections in 2014 when, for the first time in the island nation’s history, Fijians will go to the polls without regard to race and ethnicity.

Minister Kubuabola said that he had accompanied Fiji’s Prime Minister, Commodore Bainimarama, to his meeting last month with the President Yudhoyono of Indonesia, the leader of the world’s third largest democracy. He said President Yudhoyono had expressed his hope that Fiji would be able to successfully manage its transition through a homegrown process that would be sustainable.  The Indonesian President had remarked that democracy was a process, not an event, and certainly not something to be created through external dictate.

The Fiji Foreign Minister reported that the Fiji Government was receiving assistance from the Indonesian Electoral Commission and that voter registration would get underway in Fiji later this year.

Minister Kubuabola noted that the Commonwealth Secretariat statement made positive mention of the Melanesian Spearhead Group’s recent meeting, but it chose to make no mention of the highly relevant facts that the meeting was held in Fiji, was chaired by Fiji’s Prime Minister and that the meeting gave its endorsement to Fiji’s Roadmap for constitutional reform and General Elections in 2014. Foreign Minister Kubuabola said it was clear where this CMAG bias was originating from.

Minister Kubuabola emphasised that Fiji has no quarrel with the Australian people, saying, “We have stood together through times of war and peace, we have played together on the sports fields, and for generations our economy has been closely linked with Australia’s. We welcome hundreds of thousands of Australians to Fiji every year, and they will always be made to feel that Fiji is their home away from home.”