LET Fiji and its people decide on how to navigate through their political challenges.
These were the sentiments of chief guest at the Melanesian Spearhead Group's celebrations yesterday, Sir Michael Somare, who said Fiji required close attention and understanding.
"Whatever the end product, it is for Fiji and its people to decide and no one else. We must respect this," Sir Michael, a former prime minister of Papua New Guinea said in his keynote address yesterday morning.
The veteran PNG politician said given the country's "complex maze of challenges", it was best to minimise the input of those on the outside.
"I have always spoken out against a quick fix and have criticised attempts to impose prescriptions from outside.
"I have counselled others not to pressure Fiji to artificially tinker with the constitution simply to appease development partners or to quell criticisms from our big boys in the region. I have argued that, that solution would be short-lived," Sir Michael said.
He added that pleas were made with the Pacific Forum and the Commonwealth to show characteristics of patience and compassion when dealing with Fiji.
"I have always held the view that working our differences and disagreements from within is less antagonistic and therefore more helpful to lasting solutions and enduring relationships.
"I have pleaded with our friends at the Pacific Forum and the Commonwealth to show patience, compassion and understanding on Fiji and not exclude her from their membership," he revealed yesterday.
Sir Michael said the role the MSG should play was one of patience and understanding.
"The choices MSG members make on Fiji as it grapples with its complex maze of challenges strikes at the very heart of how we want to resolve problems in our region," he said.
"I have pointed out that a one-fits-all solution risks being counterproductive if local conditions are not factored in."
Sir Michael said given the country was concluding its new constitution, this was a time to harvest patience and co-operation.
"Fiji is almost at the end of the process on the new constitution aimed at restoring democracy. The Fiji government requires our patience and the Fiji people deserve our trust in their judgement," he said.
"I for one have no doubt in the wisdom of the Fiji leaders and people to arrive at a responsible outcome," he concluded.
The celebrations yesterday marked the 25th anniversary of the MSG.
The University of the South Pacific hosted Sir Michael, Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama and USP's vice chancellor and president, Prof Rajesh Chandra to a traditional Fijian welcome ceremony at the Japan-Pacific ICT Centre in Suva.
The celebrations continue today and conclude tomorrow evening at USP.