MINISTRY OF INFORMATION FIJI NEWS SUMMARY 4:00PM 25/06/13

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1.????PUBLIC FAREWELL SOLDIERS BOUND FOR GOLAN HEIGHTS-?Thousands of people today braved the drizzling rain and strong winds to join the President His Excellency Ratu Epeli Nailatikau and Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama to officially farewell Fijian troops leaving for Syrian Golan Heights at Albert Park.

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2.????FIJI STRENGTHENS GLOBAL TIES-?Fijian President, His Excellency Ratu Epeli Nailatikau this morning received two more credentials from the Republic of Chile and the Islamic Republic of Iran, as the Fijian Government expands global bilateral relations.

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3.????CHILEAN AMBASSADOR PAYS COURTESY VISIT-?The Republic of Chile?s non resident ambassador to Fiji Mr Isauro Torres paid a courtesy visit to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola to discuss possible areas of cooperation between the two countries.

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4.????FIJI REJECTS CLAIM THAT IT IS ‘IGNORANT’ OF THE SITUATION IN WEST PAPUA-?Fijian Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, has rejected claims by a prominent independence campaigner in West Papua, Dr John Ondawame, that he is “confused” and “ignorant” about the extent to which the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation (WPNCL) is representative of the aspirations of the people of the Indonesian province.

5.????BRIDGE TRAINING CHALLENGES BUA YOUTH AND WOMEN LEADERS-?The Fijian Government?s Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections (BRIDGE) programme provides a platform for the inclusive participation of women and youth in the political discourse and processes as Fiji prepares for the 2014 election.

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6.????A MUCH AWAITED DREAM TO BECOME REALITY FOR SEAQAQA WOMEN-?The planned construction of a women?s centre in Seaqaqa by Ministry of Women will assist women from different communities to develop income generating activities.

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1.?PUBLIC FAREWELL SOLDIERS BOUND FOR GOLAN HEIGHTS

Thousands of people today braved the drizzling rain and strong winds to join the President His Excellency Ratu Epeli Nailatikau and Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama to officially farewell Fijian troops leaving for Syrian Golan Heights at Albert Park.

Ratu Epeli reminded the soldiers that they will be working in a volatile environment.

?The situation calls for dedication, teamwork and courage and the highest level of discipline both regimental and personal,? Ratu Epeli said.

He encouraged them to be professional in carrying out their duties.

?We have always risen to the occasion and earned the respect of those around us. I am confident that on this mission you will do the same,? Ratu Epeli added.

Ratu Epeli also commended relatives of the soldiers who braved the rain this morning to farewell their loved ones.

?Your strength in keeping the home base safe and secure will contribute in a big way to the success of our troops on deployment. It is heartening to see you turn out in numbers today. This is a reassuring sign of your support. The nation thanks you,? Ratu Epeli said.

Fiji Ex-servicemen Association vice president Mr Panapasa Vakacegu said the association wished the troops well for their deployment in Golan Heights.

?It was a wonderful site watching our brave soldiers marching during the parade this morning. On behalf of our association I am wishing them the best in trying to keep peace in the Syrian Golan Heights,? ?Mr Vakacegu said.

The soldiers will depart Fiji on?Wednesday June 26, 2013.

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2.?FIJI STRENGTHENS GLOBAL TIES

Fijian President, His Excellency Ratu Epeli Nailatikau this morning received two more credentials from the Republic of Chile and the Islamic Republic of Iran, as the Fijian Government expands global bilateral relations.

The Republic of Chile?s non-resident ambassador Mr Isauro Torres Negri and non resident ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mr Seyed Majid Tafresh Khameneh presented their credentials at Government House.

Mr Negrei holds a degree in Law from the University of Chile and has served three diplomatic terms at the Embassy of Chile in Washington DC ?including as Minister Counsellor, First Secretary and Second Secretary in charge of economic affairs.

On the other hand, Mr Khameneh, holds a Doctor of Philosophy in International Law from Tehran University and has held diplomatic posts at the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Wellington and Helsinki.

Both are based in New Zealand and also paid courtesy calls on Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama..
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3.?CHILEAN AMBASSADOR PAYS COURTESY VISIT

The Republic of Chile?s non resident ambassador to Fiji Mr Isauro Torres paid a courtesy visit to the Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola to discuss possible areas of cooperation between the two countries.

Mr Torres made the visit after presenting his credentials to His Excellency the President Ratu Epeli Nailatikau earlier this morning.

Mr Torres identified the tourism and public health sectors as likely areas if bilateral cooperation with Fiji.

He also showed a keen interest in assisting Fiji in the area of poverty alleviation and disaster relief.

Presently, ?the Republic of Chile has a special fund known as the Chile Fund for Poverty and Hunger under the United Nations Development Programme.

Mr Torres also acknowledged Fiji?s chairmanship of the G-77 plus China group at the United Nations.

Ratu Inoke thanked Mr Torres for offers of possible cooperation and invited the Government of the Republic of Chile to attend the Pacific Island Development Forum (PIDF) meeting scheduled in August.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, through its Fiji Mission in Wellington, would be working closely with Mr Torres to continue and strengthen its engagement with the Republic of Chile.

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4.?FIJI REJECTS CLAIM THAT IT IS ‘IGNORANT’ OF THE SITUATION IN WEST PAPUA

Fijian Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, has rejected claims by a prominent independence campaigner in West Papua, Dr John Ondawame, that he is “confused” and “ignorant” about the extent to which the West Papua National Coalition for Liberation (WPNCL) is representative of the aspirations of the people of the Indonesian province.

Dr Ondawame criticised Ratu Inoke after the Coalition’s application for membership of the Melanesian Spearhead Group was deferred last week at the MSG leader’s summit in Noumea, New Caledonia.

The WPNCL says it represents 29 resistance, social and traditional organisations in West Papua therefore is broadly representative of the wider community inside West Papua and abroad.

Responding to Dr Ondawame’s claim that Ratu Inoke questioned whether the Coalition is truly representative adding the MSG was fully aware of the make-up of the group and the Coalition had no need for concerns.

“The WPNCL needs to understand that verifying and validating claims is a critical component of assessing applications in any situation and this is no different. It is not because we are confused or ignorant but because we want to ensure that the decisions we make in the MSG are well-founded and evidence-based,” Ratu Inoke said.

The Fijian Foreign Affairs Minister said that rather than criticise the MSG, the WPNCL would do better to support its decision.

“For the MSG leaders, making informed decisions is critical, especially on a sensitive issue like West Papua. We need to analyse the precise situation so that our leaders can properly consider the implications of any decision,? Ratu Inoke added.

?We had hoped that the WPNCL would understand this. Under the circumstances, Dr Ondawame’s criticism of me is especially unfair, given the effort Fiji has made to raise the issue of West Papua in the MSG.?

At the ?19th MSG Leader’s Summit in Noumea earlier this month, the leaders noted that a roadmap in relation to any application by the WPNCL for membership of the MSG should be based on clear and achievable guidelines.

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5.?BRIDGE TRAINING CHALLENGES BUA YOUTH AND WOMEN LEADERS

The Fijian Government?s Building Resources in Democracy, Governance and Elections (BRIDGE) programme provides a platform for the inclusive participation of women and youth in the political discourse and processes as Fiji prepares for the 2014 election.

Minister for Women, Social Welfare and Poverty Alleviation Dr Jiko Luveni said the BRIDGE program is aimed at harnessing the leadership skills of women and men who are leaders in their communities and also to get communities to recognize the capabilities of women leaders as decision makers.

During a three-day BRIDGE training organised by the ministry in Bua in the Northern Division, Dr Luveni told the 34 women and youth community leaders to exercise their civic rights and learn about gender equality.

?This BRIDGE training project supports the attainment of leadership skills of our women and youth, to increase the participation of women and youths in the political processes leading up to 2014, from getting involved in political parties, to registering to vote, possibly enlisting as a candidate if they feel it is their calling but, most importantly, just going to the polling booths on the day and voting, thus ensuring, their voices are heard through ballot box,? Dr Luveni said.

A participant from Nawaca Women?s Group in Bua, Emele Raboila said the BRIDGE training enabled participants to identify barriers that exist for women in communities and map out strategies to promote women into socioeconomic development.

?There are fewer women representatives in Parliament and rural women are not aware about the electoral system we have in Fiji. The information gathered during the workshop will be shared among other village women and it will empower the community leaders, to educate their communities on leadership and on how to effectively participate in upcoming elections. Being aware on how to vote, register for the voting and making your votes count,? Ms Raboila said.

BRIDGE programme facilitator, Comeke Delana said the training challenged male participant?s to realize women have equal rights as men in decision making in their homes and communities.

?The male participants were challenged by looking at the responsibilities they have and realized it?s not only the women who should do the cooking and cleaning. It is shared responsibility among ?family members,? Mr Delana said.

?It?s an eye opener for the men, it has aspired them to change their thinking and provide equal opportunities for women into decision making. Women are encouraged to come out of their comfort zone and enhance their potentials, so they can equally participate into their village committees,? he added.

Mr Delana said the training offers lessons on the electoral cycle, pre-election period, election period and post-election period.

?The participants have come to understand that voting is their civic duty and it?s about making their ticks count. We have conducted similar trainings in Nausori, Tavua, Nadi, Savusavu and Labasa,? Mr Delana said.

?The participants would be taking back strategies of BRIDGE training into their communities and enhance the women?s participation at grassroots level and the impact will be seen as an increased participation of women at the national level.?

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6.?A MUCH AWAITED DREAM TO BECOME REALITY FOR SEAQAQA WOMEN

The planned construction of a women?s centre in Seaqaqa by Ministry of Women will assist women from different communities to develop income generating activities.

The announcement last week by minister for Women, Dr Jiko Luveni brought much delight for the Natua Women?s Group.

The group?s president Niramala Kumari said they had sought government assistance to construct a women?s centre, which will be the first for women in Seaqaqa.

Dr Luveni said the centre would provide economic opportunities for the women and commended the women of Seaqaqa for their commitment to improving their lives.

?When you empower a woman you empower a family. When we empower a group of women we are developing a nation. The Centre will be a hub for socioeconomic development which will be instrumental in transforming the lives of the rural women,? Dr Luveni said.

Dr Luveni added the Ministry will provide $5000 worth of construction material to complete the project.

?We are adamant on improving our services to the people so when we receive requests of this nature, within a month it should go through divisional office then to Fiji Women?s Federation for fast processing of ?requests,? Dr Luveni said.

Ms Kumari said women in Seaqaqa district do not have permanent employment and the facility would help them generate income for their families.

?There are about 50 members in our group and this comprises of our Indian and iTaukei sisters who are currently dependant on small scale farming to support their families. These women are hardworking and are determined to earn money to contribute towards improving the lives of their families,? Ms Kumari said.

?We are so grateful that we have received the support of the Ministry in helping us construct this much awaited facility that will provide a platform for the women to share their knowledge and working together in coordinating income generating activities.

?Had it not been for Government assistance, we would be struggling to build this much needed facility for the women,? she added.

Ms Kumari highlighted that once the centre is developed the Natua Women?s Group will get catering orders for social events such as weddings in the village.

?We are also grateful to the Ministry for providing us with sewing machines, we will now be able to sew school uniforms for about 500 school children. The Centre has instilled new hope for the women to come out of their homes and acquire skills for income generating for their families,? Ms Kumari said.

In her opening address, Dr Luveni thanked the Natua Women?s Group for their contributions towards their communities and said that the Centre would provide economic opportunities for the women.

Seaqaqa District Advisory Council chairman Lakhan Kumar said Dr Luveni is the first government minister to meet communities in Seaqaqa district.

?Today?s visit by the Minister has been a timely one, it has challenged the women to come out of their comfort zones, realize the importance of their roles. Dr Luveni?s message that women are agents of change, relates well to the women here because it has motivated them to work hard and the Centre will provide with opportunities on achieving their dreams,? Mr Kumar said.

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