Let's hope this is one very good step in the climb to a just society for Fiji and respect for the differing points of view. Despite threats during the week about un-inviting some representatives, all political groups were represented including some newies such as the Greens, the Spoons, the Moons, the Coins, the Potts! Okay, I can't remember those new ones!!!
It is a major achievement to sit down and talk and a preparation for the President's Forum (not that the kindly elderly gentleman will have much to say considering his frailty.) There was mention of a paradym shift - hey, what is that? It's an academic term not bandied around much in Fiji, but maybe it is relevant - a different frame of reference, a new model for analysis, that sort of thing.
from Fiji Times this afternoon:
Political leaders find some common ground
By IRENE MANUELI
Friday, March 13, 2009
Update: 6:56PM THE nation's political leaders arrived at a consensus on several issues pertinent to the proposed President's Political Dialogue Forum (PPDF). Chaired by interim Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama at the Parliament Complex today, the representatives of 18 political parties and the interim government have agreed on the agenda of the upcoming forum which the Commonwealth and the United Nations have been asked mediate.
According to the communique issued an hour ago, the PPDF's agenda will be on:
The democratic experience in Fiji and parliamentary reform;
Electoral reform and general election;
The People's Charter.
It was agreed that representation at the Forum will be as follows:
* three representatives from the interim government,
* two each from the two majority parties _ namely the Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua and the Fiji Labour Party,
* one each from the remaining 16 parties, and
* 15 representatives from non-government or civil society organisations.
By Friday next week, all political parties are required to have submitted the names of their representative(s) and at least three names of NGOs or civil society bodies they believe should participate in the Forum.
The 15 non-political representatives will however be determined by the secretariat to the forum after consultation with the interim Prime Minister, said the communiqu.
The extent or manner of their participation with political representatives in the Forum will be determined at the next political leaders meeting on April 3.
The April meeting, which would be the third of its kind since the 2006 takeover, would also discuss the UN/Commonwealth proposals on the chair and team of mediators for the Forum, and how the decision-making process would proceed.
No dates were set for the Forum but it was agreed that it would not be convened until "after all outstanding matters were ironed out and after feedback is received from the UN/Commonwealth on their preparedness to host the PPDF".
Participants also agreed that, while the input of the Commonwealth and UN was appreciated, "Fiji must decide its own future", said the communique.
(and later: Saturday from the Fiji Times)
By SAKIASI NAWAIKAMA
Saturday, March 14, 2009
THE involvement of non-governmental and civil society organisations allows a more inclusive approach to the Presidential Political Dialogue Forum, says former prime minister Laisenia Qarase.
After a day of deliberations, political party leaders agreed that the agenda for the PPDF would be the democratic experience in Fiji and parliamentary reform, electoral reform and general election and the People's Charter.
Mr Qarase said if the PPDF had to be inclusive it would need to involve NGOs and civil society.
In a conclusive outcome yesterday, the Political Party Leaders Forum agreed to submit the names of non governmental organisations and civil society organisations by March 20.
Mr Qarase said the Soqosoqo Duavata ni Lewenivanua party did not make a stand on the issue at the first forum last year.
But the party strongly supported the suggestion yesterday as the forum had to be more inclusive, said Mr Qarase.
"Parties will have the opportunity to suggest NGOs and civil society groups to be included.
"The meeting agreed on the participation of NGOs but the modality of their participation will be decided in the next meeting."
Independent interlocutors Robin Nair and Sitiveni Halapua, in their report after the first forum, said there would need to be an appropriate methodology of selecting civil society representatives for the PPDF as there was a plethora of recognised organisations.
The parties feared the inclusion of non-political parties would further complicate the process.
But there was an emerging consensus that an opportunity should be given to non-political parties and individuals to organise their own forum and discuss an identical agenda.
Mr Qarase said the forum had an atmosphere conducive to a good exchange of views.
(posted later on.) Of varying importance and membership are the registered political parties;
The new parties include Green Party of Fiji, Coalition of Independent Nationals Party (COIN) and Party of the Truth (POTT). Other registered political parties include United People's Party (UPP), Justice & Freedom Party (JFP), Soqosoqo ni Vakavulewa Ni Taukei (SVT), National Federation Party (NFP), Fiji Labour Party (FLP), Social Liberal Multicultural Party (SLM), National Alliance Party of Fiji (NAPF), Soqosoqo Duavata Ni Lewenivanua (SDL), Party of National Unity (PANU), Nationalist Vanua Tako Lavo Party (NVTLP), National Democratic Party (NNDP), Conservative Alliance Matanitu Vanua (CAMV), Fiji People's Party (FPP), and General Voter's Party (GVP).