Joint UN, Commonwealth team dispatched to facilitate political talks in Fiji
A joint United Nations and Commonwealth team set off on Monday 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, UN officials said here.
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 has had four coups since 1987, reports said.
In September 2008, Prime Minister Josaia Bainimarama of Fiji 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 United Nations at the time.
The joint team, comprising Mari Yamashita and Alex Grzybowski of the United Nations, 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, Xinhua reported.