Pacific churches have welcomed Fiji’s support for self-determination of the Kanaky people and called on regional governments to follow this course.
The call came after Fiji’s Prime Minister, Rear Admiral Frank Bainimarama reaffirmed his country’s support for the indigenous people of Kanaky (New Caledonia) at a United Nation’s Special Committee on Decolonization (C24) regional seminar in Nadi last week.
Pacific Conference of Churches General Secretary, Reverend Francois Pihaatae, said the position taken by Fiji was a refreshing reminder of what the region’s stand on decolonisation should be.
“We continue to call on all regional governments to support self-determination of our people as a collective moral duty,” Rev Pihaatae said.
Last week Bainimarama told the C24 meeting that Fiji was working with the Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) and the Special Committee itself to support the efforts of the Kanak people.
“Fiji will continue to encourage both sides to work positively within the spirit of the Agreement (Noumea Accord, 1998) towards a result that is seen as legitimate by all parties,’’ Bainimarama said.
Bainimarama said the decision of people either wanting to be independent or opting for some form of association should be respected, in respect to decolonization.
“In Fiji, we are neutral about what each person decides, but we are most adamant that the decision must be theirs,” he said.
Rev Pihaatae said the position taken by Fiji was an example to the region, including the governments of Australia and New Zealand.
“However, we note with concern the silence of regional governments – including Fiji – on the issue of decolonization and self-determination for Pacific peoples still under colonial rule,” Rev Pihaatae said.
“Whilst we applaud the explicit support for Kanaky’s self-determination, we call on all Pacific governments, in particular Fiji and Papua New Guinea – the two regional representatives on the C24, – to take a similar position on other non-self-governing Pacific territories, especially American Samoa, Guam, Maohi Nui (French Polynesia), West Papua, Rapa Nui (Easter Island) amongst others and to do so consistently.”