A joint United Nations and Commonwealth team set off today for Fiji to help the interim Government and other major political forces in the Pacific archipelago agree on the terms and conditions for talks aimed at restoring democracy.
The Joint Technical Team’s five-day trip follows a request to mediate an “inclusive, independent and time-bound” political dialogue after parliamentary elections scheduled for next month were postponed.
The island chain has suffered prolonged internal tensions between its indigenous Fijian and Indo-Fijian communities, and had four coups since 1987.
In September, the country’s Prime Minister, Josaia Bainimarama, told the General Assembly's high-level annual debate that the country would not be able to hold parliamentary elections by March 2009, as previously scheduled, because it first must reform its electoral system.
Commodore Bainimarama, Commander of Fiji’s military forces, came to power in a coup in December 2006, sparking criticism from the UN at the time.
The joint team, comprising of Mari Yamashita and Alex Grzybowski of the UN, and Juliet Solomon and Sabhita Raju of the Commonwealth, will consult with a broad range of political forces on the national, regional and local levels while in the capital, Suva.