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Forum discord as concerns mount over Nauru situation

THERE appears to be some discord within the Pacific Forum over the mounting international and regional concerns about what some Pacific Forum member countries view as a breakdown in democracy in Nauru.

Apart from alleged government interference in the country’s judiciary, the recent arrests of two suspended Opposition Parliamentarians and restrictions on citizens’ access to social media sites have led to heightened concerns about a breach of democratic principles. The two Opposition MPs were arrested in June following a protest – which the Nauruan Government described as a violent riot – outside Parliament. A third Opposition MP has had his passport cancelled preventing him from leaving the country to visit his family in New Zealand. In recent times, Nauru has also sacked and deported its Chief Magistrate who had issued injunctions restraining the President Baron Waqa-led government from deporting two residents.

A Chief Justice who was returning from vacation was also refused re-entry into the country. Concerns over the alleged breakdown of democracy in the once phosphaterich country were raised on the fringes of the Pacific Forum Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Sydney in early July. Both, Australia and New Zealand took the opportunity to voice their concerns in bilateral meetings with the Nauruan delegate.

According to the Secretary General of the Pacific Forum Secretariat, Dame Meg Taylor, the current situation in Nauru does not warrant regional action under the Biketawa Declaration.

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