ACTU President Sharan Burrow has urged the international community to maintain and intensify its pressure on the Fijian administration to find a swift and constitutionally valid solution to the country’s worsening political and economic crisis.
Ms Burrow condemned as illegal, unconstitutional and unlawful the decision of acting Fijian President Ratu Josefa Iloilo to dismiss the democratically elected Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry and re-appoint the caretaker Laisenia Qarase regime.
“Those who are fighting for democracy in Fiji need to know they have the on-going support of the international community.
“Now is not the time for the Australian Government, the Commonwealth or the European Union to relax diplomatic and economic pressure on the Fijian administration to return the country to democracy. Now is the time for that pressure to be intensified,” said Ms Burrow.
“The Fijian administration made a promise to the people of Fiji and the international community that it would respect the recent decision of the Fiji Court of Appeal upholding the validity of the 1997 Fijian Constitution.
“That promise has been broken,” said Ms Burrow.
By ignoring the Court of Appeal ruling President Ratu Josefa was putting at risk the already fragile economic situation in Fiji, Ms Burrow said.
“Since George Speight hijacked the democratically elected Government at gun-point, hundreds of Fijians have become refugees in their own country. Farmers have been evicted from their land, 8,000 building workers have lost their jobs and 5,000 tourist industry workers are unemployed or working reduced hours. The Fijian administration owes it to these people to find a constitutional solution to this crisis and get the Fijian economy back to work.”
Australian unions will meet early next week to discuss the situation in Fiji. “Australian unions led the way with bans during the hostage crisis and we are willing to reconsider the imposition of bans if there are no concrete moves toward a constitutional solution to the Fijian crisis,” said Ms Burrow.