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Why PM Reluctantly Attended CHOGM Only After Considering Staying Back Because of Storms

Why PM Reluctantly Attended CHOGM Only After Considering Staying Back Because of Storms
Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama (sixth from left) at Windsor Castle during the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London. Photo: DEPTFO News
April 23
11:55 2018

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama has revealed that at one stage, he thought of cancelling his trip to London altogether to continue to be with our people in the affected areas after the recent cyclones and floods.

“But as important as it is to extend a helping hand to our people in Fiji, we must also step up our effort to persuade the world to address the root cause of these terrible events,” the PM said.

“And that means using the authority I have as President of COP23 to keep demanding a more ambitious response from the global community to climate change.”

He made the remarks to Fijians in London on the margins of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.

“I’m delighted to be among so many friends and can I start by thanking the organisers for the work they have done to bring us all together,” he said.

“It’s been a big week at CHOGM and we can all relax knowing once again, a lot of good work had been done to advance Fiji’s interests in the Commonwealth and the wider world. 

“And especially to draw attention to the challenges we are facing because of the threat to our oceans and climate change.

“Friends, I have to say that I came to London very reluctantly.

“Because as you know, many Fijians are suffering back home because of the two back-to-back cyclones since Easter.

“First Cyclone Josie and then Cyclone Keni killed at least eight people, caused serious storm damage in Kadavu and flooded several of our cities and towns, including Nadi, Ba and Rakiraki on Viti Levu and Labasa and Savusavu in Vanua Levu.

“Once again, people’s homes and businesses and some of our nation’s infrastructure was damaged or destroyed.

“And once again, too many Fijian families were left mourning the deaths of their loved ones.”

He said as soon as these cyclones subsided, he was out in the affected areas making sure that the Government was being as responsive as possible to our people’s needs.

He said the one positive thing he could say about these repeated events was that they were teaching Fijians how to respond more effectively.

“And I’m proud of the way our Care for Fiji initiative that I announced as I was leaving Fiji is already making a big difference to alleviate the suffering in the affected areas,” he said.

Nation’s greatest heroes
“This year marks the 40th anniversary of our contribution to UN Peacekeeping – our service men and women reaching out from our island home to protect vulnerable ordinary people in troubled parts of the world,” he said.

“As people, we are fighting injustice at home and injustice in the world.

“And I want to make special mention of those of you in the room tonight who are helping to fight injustice, terrorism and tyranny in the service of the British armed forces.
“The Fijian people as one salute you and thank you for that service.

“Because it is a fight for the values we all share with our great friends in the United Kingdom and the other nations who share the same values.
“We all know people who have paid the ultimate sacrifice in that struggle – for Britain and for Fiji.

“And I want to say to their families and friends that these are our nation’s greatest heroes.

“And each has a special place in our hearts and in our prayers, along with those who are continuing to place themselves in danger in defence of our common values.”

Edited by Mohammed Zulfikar


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