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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
09SUVA189 2009-05-11 07:47:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Suva
Cable title:  

C O R R E C T E D C O P Y SUVA 176 AMBASSADOR MEETS WITH

Tags:   PGOV PREL KDEM FJ 
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P 110747Z MAY 09
FM AMEMBASSY SUVA
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INFO RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 2235
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON 0303
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					  UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 SUVA 000189 

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

PLEASE PASS TO EAP ACTING A/S DAVIES

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PREL KDEM FJ

SUBJECT: C O R R E C T E D C O P Y SUVA 176 AMBASSADOR MEETS WITH
FORMER PM CHAUDHRY



1. (SBU) Summary: On May 7, I met with former prime minister and
Fiji Labor Party (FLP)leader Mahendra Chaudhry. We discussed the
situation in Fiji following the abrogation of its constitution and
possible ways forward. He said that recent events amounted to a
lost opportunity for the interim government.



2. Chaudhry supports amnesty for de facto Prime Minister
Bainimarama if he withdraws from the political scene and allows for
a coalition government to lead the country to elections. He
responded favorably to my suggestion to meet with deposed PM
Laisenia Qarase but said it should be a one-on-one meeting so they
could resolve their longstanding differences. End summary.

ABROGATION, A LOST OPPORTUNITY


--------------------------




2. (SBU) On May 7, I met with former prime minister and FLP leader
Mahendra Chaudhry to discuss the situation in Fiji following the
abrogation of its constitution as well as possible future steps to
return the country to democratic governance. Chaudhry said he was
disappointed with de facto PM Frank Bainimarama's actions and saw
the circumstances surrounding abrogation as a lost opportunity. He
was concerned that there is little chance the President's Political
Dialogue Forum (PPDF) can now go forward, which effectively ends
what had been a viable process for all political parties. He
stressed that President Iloilo's act, instigated by Bainimarama, not
only abrogated the Constitution, but broke the Peoples Charter as
well. Despite Bainimarama's declared intention to lead the country
to elections in 2014, Chaudhry opined that the de facto government
would be unable to promulgate a new order, call for elections or
hold elections with any legitimacy without the inclusion of all
political parties. He told me he plans to send a letter to
Bainimarama telling him that he has lost credibility with the Fijian
people.

THE WAY FORWARD


--------------------------




3. (SBU) Looking forward, Chaudhry said Bainimarama should
immediately lift all restrictions on the press and the right to
assemble. He must also allow a dialogue to begin among the
political parties where they can come to agreement on a mutually
acceptable path back to democracy. The de facto government should
have a representative at these talks, but he insisted that it should
not be the de facto Attorney General. Bainimarama should not try to
manage the dialogue process and should concentrate on running the
government. Chaudhry added that, to do this more effectively,
Bainimarama must shed some of his portfolios. (Note: Concurrently
Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, National Planning, Public
Service, People's Charter for Change and Progress, Information,
Sugar, Foreign Affairs, International Co-operation and Civil
Aviation, Indigenous and Multi-Ethnic Affairs and Provincial
Development and Commander of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces
[RFMF]. End note.)



4. (SBU) In Chaudhry's vision once the political parties come to
agreement on a broad framework, the UN and Commonwealth could then
be brought back to help with the preparations for elections and to
draft appropriate changes to the Constitution. He suggested, as
have other opposition leaders, that the new constitution could
include a provision allowing amnesty for Bainimarama and the RFMF on
condition that they return permanently to the barracks. Once the
new constitution has been agreed upon, Bainimarama and the de facto
government should hand over power to a coalition government that
would prepare for elections by 2011.

WILLING TO WORK WITH QARASE


--------------------------




5. (SBU) Noting that his vision was similar to deposed PM Laisenia
Qarase's (SEPTEL), I suggested that the two meet.. Chaudhry told me
that he is willing to meet with Qarase one-on-one to resolve their
longstanding differences before beginning any political process.
Even if this initial meeting turns out to be more symbolic than
substantive, it would be an improvement over their previous
relationship as Chaudhry refused to meet with Qarase while serving
in the former Prime Minister's cabinet.

SUVA 00000189 002.2 OF 002



COMMENT


--------------------------




6. (SBU) Chaudhry is clearly in favor of continuing some form of
the political leader's dialogue that was taking place before the
abrogation but this time without Bainimarama's interference to
obtain a pre-determined outcome. With so many similarities now
between the visions outlined by Chaudhry and Qarase, I see there
might be a real opportunity for the two to help resolve the current
political impasse. However, it seems uncharacteristically naive of
Chaudhry to imagine a political process in which Bainimarama allows
genuine dialogue. Bainimarama also would likely react negatively to
cooperation between Chaudhry and Qarase, which he would see as
undercutting his ability to secure his preferred constitutional
arrangements.


MCGANN