20 Aug 2002

Common wealth Secretary-general urges Pacific leaders to strive for democracy

10:45 am on 20 August 2002

The Commonwealth secretary-general, Don McKinnon, has called on Pacific leaders to strive for the promotion and consolidation of democracy in the region.

Radio Fiji says Mr McKinnon made the call at the Commonwealth Pacific Roundtable on Democracy for regional leaders currently underway at Nadi.

Mr McKinnon said democratic culture and practice are not only fundamental to a just society but are essential ingredients to political, social and economic development.

He said democracy has faced several challenges in the Pacific in recent years and strains have emerged between the inherited model states adopted on independence and more traditional forms of governance.

Earlier, Fiji's prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, said Pacific Island states are not happy with democracy being shoved down their throats because it has brought shame to the region.

He said they would inform Australia, New Zealand and the Commonwealth Secretariat that the democracy they preach is not right for the region and does not go well with their customs and beliefs.