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Texts adopted
Thursday, 6 July 2000 - Strasbourg Final edition
Fiji and the Solomon Islands
B5-0616, 0620, 0629, 0636, 0640 and 0644/2000

European Parliament resolution on the situation in Fiji and the Solomon Islands

The European Parliament,

A.  gravely concerned about the political crisis in Fiji after a coup on 19 May 2000, which led to the suspension of Parliament, the abrogation of the Constitution, the resignation of the democratically elected Prime Minister and of the President, and the imposition of martial law on 29 May 2000 by the Fijian Army,

B.  whereas on 3 July 2000 an Interim Civilian Administration was formed in Fiji under the new Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase, with the military retaining executive authority,

C.  deeply worried about the plight of 27 hostages, including the deposed Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry and other cabinet ministers, who are still held in the parliamentary complex as the army declared a military exclusive zone on 2 July 2000 and repeated threats to their life are made by coup leader George Speight,

D.  gravely concerned about the heightening tensions between indigenous Fijians and Indo-Fijians and amongst the indigenous Fijians themselves, and about the anti-Fijian-Indian rhetoric of coup leader George Speight which has already caused mobs to destroy Fijian-Indian shops and troops to rebel on Fiji's second largest island, Vanua Levu,

E.  recalling that Fiji was earlier the scene of a coup d'etat which was led in 1987 by Colonel Rabuka for similar reasons and which caused the country's expulsion from the Commonwealth for 10 years and led to the departure of thousands of Fijian-Indians,

F.  noting that the multi-racial constitution of 1997 was designed to solve the ethnic problems on the islands, including the land issue, and that this constitution was unanimously approved by an ethnic Fijian-dominated Parliament and blessed by the Great Council of Chiefs,

G.  whereas the Solomon Islands also faced an attempted coup in Guadalcanal on 5 June 2000, which led to the resignation of the democratically elected Prime Minister and the collapse of law and order,

H.  whereas on 30 June 2000, by 23 votes to 21, the Solomon Islands" Parliament elected the opposition leader Mannasseh Sogavare as the new Prime Minister, and whereas Sogavare must fulfil his pledge to create national unity and reconciliation,

I.  drawing attention to the key role played by the ACP-EU Joint Assembly's mission to the Solomon Islands which included two MEPs who mediated between the warring factions and helped reduce the level of tension,

J.  whereas the ongoing conflict in the Solomon Islands between the Malaita Eagle Forces and Guadalcanal's Isatabu Freedom Movement is also rooted in ethnic tension and has spread beyond Honiara with renewed fighting breaking out on 2 July 2000 and resulting in a number of deaths,

K.  noting that, since independence from Britain in 1978, the Solomon Islands have tried to create a parliamentary system to bring together a country of over 1000 islands and 70 different languages,

L.  whereas both Fiji and the Solomon Islands are the latest examples of ethnic tensions that are occurring across the South Pacific,

M.  having regard to the measures adopted by the Commonwealth during the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group Meeting in London on 6 June 2000,

1.  Strongly condemns the coup by George Speight and the dismantling of all democratic institutions, including the 1997 Constitution, the Government and Parliament in Fiji;

2.  Urges the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages held by coup leader George Speight in Fiji;

3.  Calls for those involved in the hostage-taking to be brought to justice in accordance with international standards;

4.  Strongly condemns the stirring up of ethnic tensions and the destruction of Fijian-Indian property, noting that Fijian Indians make up 44% of Fiji's population of 800 000;

5.  Calls on all parties involved in the constitutional and political crisis to ensure the safety and human rights of the civilian population, in particular the ethnic Fijian Indians and indigenous Fijians refusing to support the coup, and for all sides in the Solomon Islands to respect any amnesty or cease-fire agreed;

6.  Welcomes the initiative of the National Council of Women in Fiji, in particular their call for unity and for a peaceful resolution of the crisis;

7.  Notes the appointment of an Interim Civilian Administration by the military in Fiji and expresses concern about the constitutional and democratic status of such an arrangement;

8.  Urges the Interim Civilian Administration and Fiji's new Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase to work towards returning Fiji to full democracy and towards an end to the current crisis which is crippling Fiji's economy: delaying sugar production, dramatically reducing activities in the tourism sector and putting thousands out of work after recent trade bans;

9.  Calls on the Commission to start appropriate procedures to suspend development co-operation with Fiji if there is no return to democracy within a set time frame, even after the release of the hostages;

10.  Strongly condemns the attempted coup by the Malaita Eagle Forces in the Solomon Islands and the recent escalation in violence;

11.  Supports all efforts including those by the new Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands Mannasseh Sogavare to create national unity and reconciliation;

12.  Strongly condemns the ethnic tensions and destruction of property in the Solomon Islands and calls for the swift restoration of law and order;

13.  Urges the Commission to keep a close watch on moves towards democracy in the Solomon Islands, particularly in view of the crucial role played by EU funds (which amounted to €60 million last year) in the Solomons, and warns that EU aid may be suspended if there is not a rapid return to democracy, peace and stability;

14.  Urges all parties in both countries to observe and respect democratic norms and constitutional procedures;

15.  Urges the Commission to monitor developments closely, not only in Fiji and the Solomon Islands but across the South Pacific region in view of the increase in religious and ethnic tensions in the area;

16.  Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments and the parliaments of the Member States and applicant states, and to the constitutional authorities of both Fiji and the Solomon Islands.

Last updated: 4 June 2004Legal notice