Reeves holds secret Fiji talks

Last updated 00:00 01/01/2009
Reuters
UNCLEAR DIRECTION: Bainimarama says he cannot give New Zealand and Australia any clearer an indication of Fiji's election plans than he already has.

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Secret  talks are under way to try to resolve the year-long Fiji crisis, with former New Zealand governor-general Sir Paul Reeves meeting military strongman Voreqe Bainimarama.

Sir Paul, a co-architect of Fiji's current 1998 constitution, was in Fiji last week but all sides, including the New Zealand Government, were declining any comment on his trip.

"I was there, in Fiji, but I do not want to discuss it," Sir Paul said last night.

The Fijivillage website said the London-based Commonwealth Secretariat agreed to send Sir Paul to explore options. It also said the head of the Fiji Prime Minister's Office, Parmesh Chand, had confirmed that Sir Paul had talks with Commodore Bainimarama.

He said the purpose of Sir Paul's visit was to try to find out whether people could discuss ways to move the country forward through the new National Council for Building a Better Fiji.

Commodore Bainimarama overthrew the democratic government of Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase last December.

New Zealand has imposed "smart sanctions" banning contact with the Bainimarama regime and imposing a ban on its officials coming here.

New Zealand has also opposed the commodore's planned "people's charter", which would have greater authority than the Reeves constitution, and has made it clear that anybody involved with it will not be allowed into New Zealand.

Commodore Bainimarama has said that, under the charter, "racist" governments would not be allowed to run in planned democratic elections in 2009.

Media reports in Fiji say that Sir Paul, who was governor-general between 1985 and 1990, also met Mr Qarase and the head of the Catholic Church in Fiji, Archbishop Petero Mataca.

The archbishop heads a military appointed national council, which is to hold public meetings to finalise the people's charter.

 

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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