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Fiji Time: 11:04 PM on Thursday 24 April

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Military, GCC agree to talks

SERA JANINE
Saturday, December 23, 2006

THE military has agreed to meet a delegation from the Great Council of Chiefs next week to discuss the council's resolutions designed to end the political crisis.

Adi Litia Qionibaravi of the GCC secretariat said military commander Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama had suggested that everyone take a break and to hold talks again after Christmas.

A chiefs' delegation was to have met him yesterday at the conclusion of the three-day council meeting but was told he had commitments.

It is believed that former army commander Paul Manueli, a member of the GCC, was asked by the council to go to the army camp and arrange for yesterday's meeting.

Major Neumi Leweni confirmed Mr Manueli's visit to the army camp. He said they could not meet the GCC as they had other activities to attend to.

The council delegation was to have been led by GCC chairman Ratu Ovini Bokini and comprised representatives from the three confederacies.

In its resolutions, the council:

Expressed its profound regret and condemnation of the illegal overthrow of the democratically- elected government;

Maintains that the 1997 Constitution is in place;

Notes the political reality that the military regime is in effective control of the machinery of government and Fiji;

Reaffirmed that the incumbent President, Ratu Josefa Iloilo, and Vice President Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi remain in office although the head of the military has announced that he has usurped executive authority and control;

Reaffirmed its strong support for democracy and the rule of law and its commitment to working with all stakeholders within the boundaries of the Constitution to agree to a roadmap to take Fiji forward;

Calls on the RFMF commander to obey the President who is constitutionally the Commander-in-Chief of the military, to order all ranks of the RFMF to vacate all non-military establishments and return to their established camps and to man these based on the approved Regular Peace Establishment;

Advise the President to continue to personally exercise executive authority in accordance with the Constitution in his official capacity;

Recognise that in view of the actions of the military, the Laisenia Qarase-led Government has been rendered ineffective and incapable of discharging its constitutional responsibilities.

In the circumstances there being no other viable alternative the GCC has regretfully advised Mr Qarase to tender his resignation to the President, Ratu Josefa.

Strongly urges the military regime to recognise that executive authority remains with Ratu Iloilo and that military personnel return forthwith to the barracks.

Recommends that Ratu Iloilo being the repository of executive authority should appoint an interim administration to return the country to early elections within a stipulated time frame and constitutional government under a suggested process.

The process is that:

Key stakeholders including Ratu Iloilo, Ratu Joni, Mr Qarase, the military, political parties and the GCC enter into urgent discussions in good faith and work constructively towards finding a legal solution to restore democracy. Their mandate is to negotiate and reach an accord to settle the terms and conditions to facilitate the resignation of the legal government and to agree to a roadmap to take Fiji forward.

The Accord will take account of these conditions proposed by the Prime Minister and members of his Government, the head of the military and his officers, the Leader of Opposition and the Leader of the Fiji Labour Party.

The crucial premise on which the Accord are to be drawn up and implemented is the need to protect and preserve the public interest. In this regard, the Interim Government of National Unity will introduce by decree if necessary initiatives that will return Fiji to normalcy. A key priority will be restoration of the economy.

IGNU will address as a matter of urgency the stated intention by Fiji's friends and international trading partners who have imposed so called "smart sanctions" as a result of and in opposition to the coup.

President Ratu Josefa establishes a privy council who shall advise him to establish the IGNU.

The privy council compose of four members from the GCC, two from the RFMF, two from the Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua Party, two from the Fiji Labour Party and one from the United People's Party.

The choice of Prime Minister and membership of the IGNU is to be recommended by the Privy Council.

The IGNU prepares for the next general elections as soon as practicable, preferably no later than 15 months from the date it assumes office.

upon the appointment of the IGNU the RFMF will return to the camp and the governing of the nation be left to the IGNU and respect for law and legal rights, including human rights must be allowed to return fully.

IGNU prepare an appropriate and fair formula for compensating all MPs who were members of both Houses of Parliament as at December 5 2006.

A Commission of Inquiry be established to investigate any credible allegations of corruption from members of the public. Details of the composition of the Commission and its terms of reference are to be part of the Accord; and

A working party be formed to review the elements that contributed to the current political crisis and make recommendations as to measures that might be taken to ensure that Fiji's coup culture is eradicated.

A copy of this resolution was taken to the army commander by special delivery yesterday.

Adi Litia of the GCC secretariat at the end of the meeting said all the council members agreed on the resolution.

"The meeting of the Bose Levu Vakaturaga has ended and the chiefs have arrived at a consensus on the resolution recommending a way forward for our country to move back to a Government that is within the law of our country," said Adi Litia.

The secretariat had prepared a draft resolution on Thursday night after deliberating on proposals made by the chiefs in their respective confederacies. The draft resolution was then given to the chiefs for their perusal and to which they reached a consensus.

Adi Litia also revealed that a meeting with the commander is the first step to be taken in the resolution and added that the meeting hinges on a number of issues, which will be addressed once Commodore Bainimarama agrees to meet with the GCC delegation.