Showing posts with label Commonwealth Group. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Commonwealth Group. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Fiji Foreign Minister Hints Of Not Returning To The Commonwealth.

Fiji's Foreign Minister, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola hinted at Fiji's intent, with regards to returning to the fold of the Commonwealth Group of nations. In a response to the statement by the Commonwealth Heads Of Government (CHOG), regarding Fiji's continued suspension, Kubuabola stated in a Fiji Sun article, “Fiji does not need the Commonwealth because it is irrelevant.”

Although, the CHOG leader's statement pledged “unwavering solidarity with the people of Fiji and their expectation of Fiji's reinstatement as a full member of the Commonwealth family”, the caveat in the CHOG statement was explicit in that, reinstatement would only occur, "through the restoration of constitutional civilian democracy and the rule of law and human rights”.

Kubuabola mentioned, “We are really not over eager to go back to the Commonwealth and we're not asking to go back to the Commonwealth." Fiji's reluctance to be re-admitted to the Commonwealth closely follows in the wake of Gambia's withdrawal from the Colonial era institution.

The Gambian Government's statement  of withdrawal was scathing: "[The] government has withdrawn its membership of the British Commonwealth and decided that the Gambia will never be a member of any neo-colonial institution and will never be a party to any institution that represents an extension of colonialism." Whether Fiji shared Gambia's view of the Commonwealth is another question worth considering.

In the African Review article, Trevor Analo highlights the growing perception about the Commonwealth:
“Many people have derided the Commonwealth as an out-dated institution that has no role to play in the modern world. It is seen as an ineffective, powerless and expensive talking shop that does nothing useful except pass resolutions on democracy and human rights.”
American Street News analyst Sam Phatey, explained what the Gambia's withdrawal from the Commonwealth means and what the tangible benefits being a member of the Commonwealth really offers:
“ The recent withdrawal of The Gambia from the Commonwealth of Nations will not only affect The Gambia but has an impact on the Commonwealth has a whole. It is a call for the Commonwealth of Nations to look at its standing in the international community. The commonwealth is looked at more as a rotary club instead of an international institution. But if one asks, “What are the benefits of being a Commonwealth country or what has my country gained from being part of the Commonwealth?” It becomes highly debatable with most people strongly emphasizing that they have not benefited from this community of 52 nations. On so many forums I came across in my research, people in Commonwealth countries including Nigeria have firmly argued that they as Commonwealth citizens have no benefits.” 
The people of Fiji would certainly share the sentiments of the lack of citizen benefits, of being in the Commonwealth. Apathy seems to describe Fiji Government's current perception of the Commonwealth. This statement from Fiji's Foreign Minister is indicative that, the ranks of Gambia might be soon be growing. The number of cracks emerging from fallen masonry in the vestibule to the Commonwealth, could inevitably threaten the structural integrity of the edifice.

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Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Will the Real International Community, Please Stand Up!

The term: international community can be misleading at times. Apparently, among one of the misuse of the expression, is the abuse of that definition by multi-lateral groups like the Commonwealth Group, to lobby a wayward nation back into their spheres of influence.

A recent proposal made by British Commonwealth General Secretary, Don McKinnon featured centrally in remarks made to Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee of the New Zealand Parliament in Wellington, reported by Radio Australia news article was in fact, a tongue in cheek retort. The Select Committee has compiled the terms of reference for an inquiry into New Zealand's relationships with South Pacific nations, in addition to inviting public submissions that may contribute to their findings.

This is an excerpt of the terms of references drawn up by the Select Committee:

To investigate the role New Zealand plays and can play in assisting Pacific Island Forum nations (excluding Australia) to develop sustainable economies, with particular attention to the following:

1.) Identifying New Zealand’s key interests and responsibilities in countries belonging to the Pacific Forum.

2.) Identifying strategic threats to New Zealand’s relationship with Pacific Forum members.

3.) Identifying opportunities to advance New Zealand’s relationships with governments and peoples in the Pacific Island Forum countries.

4.) Identifying current and potential actions to encourage sustainable economic development in, and two way trade with, Pacific Forum countries.

5.) Identifying the strategic objectives for expenditure of New Zealand Aid in Pacific Forum countries.

6.) Identifying the appropriate level and type of aid.

The closing date for submissions is Friday, 25 May 2007.

This is the excerpt of McKinnon's comments to the Select Committee:

Calls for dialogue with Fiji leaders
Radio Australia
Last Updated 30/03/2007, 14:40:15

Commonwealth Secretary-General Don McKinnon says it is time for politicians to stop criticising the leaders of last December's military coup in Fiji and begin talking to them.

Mr McKinnon reportedly made the comments to the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee of the New Zealand [Parliament] in Wellington. He says dialogue must take place with the Fijian government if democracy is to be restored.

Mr McKinnon says that Fiji's army was too large for the country prior to the coup, and enjoyed too great an influence. It is three months since Commodore Frank Bainimarama was sworn in as interim prime minister in Suva, a month after leading the fourth coup in Fiji since 1987.

Subsequently, as a convenient way of using both the carrot and stick approach, Don McKinnon warned that Fiji would risk being suspended from the Commonwealth Group. This veiled threat by McKinnon was reported by Radio Australia's news article.

This is the excerpt from Radio Australia article:

Fiji warned may lose Commonwealth membership.

Fiji has been warned it may lose its Commonwealth membership if a realistic plan for elections to be held in two years is not ready soon. The Commonwealth Secretary General Don McKinnon says failure to clearly define a time frame and procedures for the return to democracy will threaten Fiji's position.

Mr McKinnon is expected to send his top human rights adviser to Fiji for talks. Rabab Fatima will negotiate with interim regime officials including Interim Prime Minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama, Archbishop Petero Mataca, and Human Rights Commissioner, Shamima Ali. Church officials and civil society groups could also be consulted during the visit.

News reports of the U.N General Secretary rebuking the request by Commonwealth Group's General Secretary, Don McKinnon, was a rather entertaining moment from Fiji's perspective.

This smack down of McKinnon's proposal for Fiji, was an overiding confirmation that, the Commonwealth Group is not and does not represent the International Community. The spiced-up dish of diplomatic back-stabbing, served by McKinnon to the U.N, may have put the Commonwealth Group and their General Secretary, back into their rightful positions-along the sidelines of world affairs.

This is the excerpt from International Herald Tribune article:

Commonwealth chief says UN rebuffed bid to stop employing Fiji peacekeepers

The Associated Press
Published: March 30, 2007

WELLINGTON, New Zealand: The British Commonwealth asked the United Nations to stop using Fijian forces in the world body's peacekeeping missions because of last year's military coup in the Pacific nation but was rebuffed, the Commonwealth's chief said.

Don McKinnon, secretary general of the group representing Britain and its 52 current and former territories, said he raised the "ethical issue" of the United Nations paying hundreds of Fijian soldiers as peacekeepers in Iraq and elsewhere in recent weeks with new U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

"Don, we need the peacekeepers, unquote," Ban had responded, McKinnon told The Associated Press late Thursday.

An official at the U.N. regional headquarters, in the Australian capital of Canberra, referred queries on the comment to U.N. headquarters in New York.

The Commonwealth suspended Fiji nine days after military commander Commodore Frank Bainimarama seized power in a Dec. 5 bloodless coup. Bainimarama appointed an interim government with him at its head, and has said he may call elections to restore democracy in about three years. Some 300 Fiji peacekeepers guard the U.N. compound in Baghdad, and about 200 others are on U.N. peacekeeping duties in the Sinai.

Late last year, then U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan strongly deplored Fiji's coup in Fiji and demanded the immediate restoration of the country's elected government, and said the country's involvement in future peacekeeping missions could be in jeopardy.

But Fiji's existing U.N. deployments have remained in place.

Scoop, a New Zealand agency published an article using a correspondent on special assignment to New York. Selwyn Mannning's article summed up the lack of concern by the United Nations, in regards to Fiji's political situation; much to the dismay of these trans-Tasman nations, Australia and New Zealand, both disappointed that their overt lobbying may have unceremoniously revealed their lack of soft-power.

UN Conundrum Over 92 Fiji Soldiers For Operation
Sunday, 25 February 2007, 3:27 pm
Article: STATE OF IT by Selwyn Manning
UN Conundrum Over 92 More Fiji Soldiers For North Africa Peacekeeping Op


By Selwyn Manning – Scoop co-editor

Fiji's announcement that 92 soldiers from its army will be deployed to Sinai and Sudan has caused a flurry of activity at the United Nations in New York. But where exactly does the UN stand on post-coup Fiji? - Selwyn Manning reports from New York.

The United Nations secretary general's office here in New York was caught off-guard on hearing Fiji's Military had announced 92 more soldiers will soon be deployed to UN peacekeeping operations in Northern Africa - the bulk of these will go to Sinai, and the remaining six to Sudan.

The UN secretary general's spokesperson was asked on Friday (New York time) to clarify the UN's position on Fiji – considering the Pacific Island nation's military overthrew its government in December 2006. Former secretary general Kofi Annan had said at the time that there would be consequences for Fiji's military should it go ahead with a coup.

Newly appointed secretary general Ban Ki-moon's office sought time to clarify the announcement, later stating that no new deployment (with respect to Fiji) had taken place since the 2006 coup.

However the UN boss's office did not state that the report was incorrect. Neither did it specify whether a decision to deploy the 92 Fijian soldiers was already 'in the pipeline' prior to the December 2006 military coup.

But detail of the deployment - as released by the Fijian Military and published Friday on - was specific. Fiji's Military spokesman Major Neumi Leweni said the first group to Sudan will consist of 42 soldiers and will leave on March 2 and the second group will leave at a later date.

Leweni told FijiLive the dates were not confirmed for the remaining six who are destined for the Sudan operation. The military spokesperson also told FijiLive Captain Penioni Naliva - the private secretary for Fiji's military Commander Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama - will lead the Sudan mission.

The New Zealand government mission here at the United Nations has been applying pressure on the Secretary General's office to remain staunch against Fiji – at least until democracy is restored to the Pacific nation.

New Zealand was influential in shaping former secretary general, Kofi Annan's position in December when he warned there would be consequences should Fiji's military overthrow the elected Qarase multi-party government.

Annan warned that Fiji’s international standing, especially as a contributor to UN peacekeeping missions, could be jeopardized should the military conduct a coup. That statement was interpreted as meaning the UN would cut ties with Fiji, canceling its contribution of soldiers to peacekeeping operations.

Immediately prior to the December coup, Annan’s spokesperson said soldiers who take part in a coup d’etat, an unlawful seizure of power, would most likely be unwelcome in UN missions. Fiji at that time had 275 troops serving in UN peacekeeping operations.

Days earlier Annan emphasized that “Fiji’s international standing, which it has built carefully over the years, as an important contributor to UN peacekeeping operations and more recently as a member of the Peacebuilding Commission,” was at risk if the crisis was prolonged.

On January 8 the newly appointed Ban Ki-moon repeated Annan's call for the reinstatement of Fiji’s ‘legitimate authority’. On hearing from Scoop that Fiji had announced a renewed deployment of soldiers, New Zealand foreign affairs officials immediately sought clarification from the secretary general's office.

But difficulty remains, for all concerned, in determining exactly where the UN stands on post-coup Fiji.
A UN official, close to the security council, told Scoop on Friday evening (New York time) that the security council considers the 2006 Fiji coup as almost irrelevant – it is far away from New York and the coup hardly registers on the security council's radar, he said.

Clearly, the security council is more interested in keeping contributing nations on side. To ban Fiji from contributing soldiers to peacekeeping operations would go against the security council's needs, he said. And considering there will be a 30-40 percent increase in UN led operations in 2007 – the security council needs all the soldiers it can get.

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