3:58 pm GMT+12, 24/07/2012, Fiji
JPA co-President Musikari Kombo says his team wanted to find out the progress on the process for the restoration of democracy, the holding of free and fair elections, and eventually, effective and truly
representative parliamentary democracy.
"Fiji has been undergoing some political difficulties over the years. So we are here to try and understand the root causes that led to four coups d'état.
"We did not come here to find solutions because that is an internal matter for Fiji. We came here to consult for three days to grasp what is going on in Fiji and will report back to the JPA," he said
Kombo says they held talks with relevant stakeholders in Fiji that make up the political landscape of the island nation.
"We have talked to civil societies, we have talked to the government, past political leaders, former Prime Ministers, we have talked to the Constitutional Commission that is charged with responsibility of making a new constitution. So it's been diverse," Kombo told reporters in Fiji's capital Suva.
He said the JPA mission acknowledges the process for the restoration of democracy depends on the people of Fiji themselves.
"The international community can provide advice, financial and technical support to support the Fijian people to find a solution and create a stable and sustainable democratic system.
In this regard, the process of Constitution making and electoral process is extremely important.
"The process must lead to the establishment of strong and effective institutions of governance, namely, an effective legislature that is able to oversee and scrutinise government action and provide checks and balances to the executive, as well as an independent judiciary," the ACP/EU mission statement said.
While refraining from making specific recommendations for the constitution making process, the JPA mission believes that this must be guided by the general and commonly accepted international norms and values of democratic government and constitutional making, such as consultation, dialogue and inclusiveness.
To be credible and legitimate, the constitutional making process must be widely representative and have the support and confidence of the people of Fiji.
"The process must lead to the holding of free and fair elections, which must be based on an electoral system that is open, transparent and representative.
"The process must promote national reconciliation and the foundation of a democratic and just society firmly established on the rule of law and respect for human rights," the mission stated.
The JPA mission believes that measures must be provided for the people to effectively contribute to the process and civic education will therefore be extremely important in this process.
"In this regard, it is important to guarantee the freedom of the press, freedom of association and respect for human rights, while underlining that the important process of constitution making cannot take place in a climate of fear and intimidation. The JPA mission takes note that the Government is taking steps to help address this.
The mission will submit its full report to the Bureau of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA) at its meeting that will be held in Brussels in September and will be adopted at the Joint JPA meeting in Suriname in November.
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