UN, Commonwealth team to mediate in Fiji talks

February 10th, 2009 - 2:56 pm ICT by IANS  

United Nations, Feb 10 (Xinhua) A joint UN and Commonwealth team has left for Fiji to help the interim government and other major political forces in the Pacific archipelago agree on the terms for talks aimed at restoring democracy, officials have said.

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, UN officials said here Monday.

The team comprising 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.

The island chain has suffered prolonged internal tensions between its indigenous Fijian and Indo-Fijian communities, and has had four coups since 1987.

In September 2008, Prime Minister Josaia Bainimarama of Fiji told the UN 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.

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