Labour Leader Mahendra Chaudhry expresses deep regret at the tragic death of the United Nations Representative to Iraq, Sergio Viera de Mello, in a bombing incident in Baghdad today.
Mr. de Mello who was then based in East Timor visited Fiji briefly during the hostage crisis of May 2000 and the terrorist takeover of Parliament, together with the Commonwealth Secretary General, Don McKinnon.
“I had a brief conversation with him as hostage Prime Minister at the time. Even in that short time, I was impressed by his principled stand and his forthright, no-nonsense manner.
“I have admired his courage and commitment to democracy and human rights. Mr. de Mello has had a distinguished career in the United Nations and it is indeed a tragedy that such a promising career should be cut short in such a brutal and heinous manner.
In a condolence message to the United Nations Secretary General, Mr Kofi Annan, Mr Chaudhry denounced the continuing violence in Iraq that was taking such a heavy toll on innocent lives and the country’s infrastructure.
“It becomes particularly painful when the lives hit are of those engaged in humanitarian work,” he said.
Mr Chaudhry requested that his deepest condolences to Mr. de Mello’s family.