EU delays signing Cotonou Agreement with Fiji

  • 4th October 2002
  • 2002
  • // Display comment count + link

The European Commission will not be signing a trade and aid package with Fiji under the Cotonous Agreement this week-end when the EU’s Commission for Development and Humanitarian Affairs, visits Fiji.

The EU has made it clear that the 9th EDF (European Development Fun) agreement with Fiji will not be signed until the multi-party cabinet case is heard and the court’s ruling accepted by Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase.

Fiji is entitled to 21 million ECUs under the agreement for the next five years. The focus of this funding is rural education. Fiji schools will not be able to access this much needed fund to upgrade infrastructure and improve library and teaching facilities until the agreement is signed. .

Despite this, Chief Justice Daniel Fatiaki continues to insist that the multi-party cabinet case does not deserve to be given priority over criminal and civil cases pending since 1999.

He is also not saying when he will constitute the Supreme Court to hear the case despite strong protests from the FLP and other civil society organisations. .

Labour Leader Mahendra Chaudhry wrote to the Chief Justice two weeks ago protesting his decision not to give priority to the case and reminding him of the adage that “justice delayed is justice denied”.

Fatiaki replied on 24 September . Beyond waffling and shuffling, he had little else to say except to maintain that the case could not possibly be heard before early next year. He is still not talking in definite terms about when he intends to constitute the Supreme Court to hear the case.

He chose not to comment on arguments that the case was of national importance and should be given utmost priority. To his previous argument that he could not give priority to the FLP case above other pending cases, he now insists that procedural matters are not likely to be finalised much before early next year for the case to be heard any earlier.