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Global_18

Inbox Commonwealth ministers applaud Fiji’s strides towards democracy Frank Bainimarama, Prime Minister of the Republic of Fiji, has resigned as head of the military Dame Kiri Te Kanawa turned 70 in March 68 l www.global -br ief ing.org second quar ter 2014 global commonwealth network Commonwealth technology ministers are to meet biennially to discuss how technology can make a difference to development, governance and society in general. The decision to set up the forum was made at the start of 2014 when Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma met with Trinidad and Tobago’s Minister of Science and Technology, Rupert Griffith. “Technology Ministers together are best able to identify the ways in which to collaborate most effectively and to co-ordinate political action on priority concerns, from cyber crime to accessing technology in remote locations,” said Sharma. “In particular, they will be able to consider how to advance the Commonwealth Broadband Initiative, agreed at the last Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and aimed at ensuring no member country is without a national broadband development policy.” The new initiatives follow in the steps of an ICT steering committee that was set up in 2005, chaired by Griffith, to promote ICT-for-development and fund ICT projects throughout the 53 member countries. Fiji’s government has made moves towards democracy, which has seen its suspension from the Commonwealth partially lifted. Fiji was suspended from the Commonwealth in 2009 after the country’s interim Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama, failed to hold democratic elections, a condition demanded by the Commonwealth following the coup of 2006. The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group decided in March that the country should only be suspended from councils of the Commonwealth, which will allow Fiji to compete in the Commonwealth Games in July. Bainimarama defended his decision at the time by saying that the country needed time to reform its voting system. But now he has handed over the role of Commander of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces to Brigadier Mosese Tikoitoga. This marks the end of Bainimarama’s 39-year military career and leaves him free to focus on forming a new political party, which he hopes to take through this year’s national election. His withdrawal from the military was prompted by a new constitution that bars members of the armed forces from running for political office. “The UK looks forward to welcoming Fiji back into the Commonwealth family,” said Hugo Swire, UK Foreign Office Minister. “Along with the recent appointment of the Electoral Commission, this represents a further milestone towards a return to democracy.” He added: “We look to the authorities to allow the Electoral Commission to act independently as they take forward the organisation of free and fair elections.” Provided that the 2014 national elections meet international democratic standards and democracy is returned to the country, Fiji’s suspension from the Commonwealth will end. New ICT Ministers Forum will discuss cyber crime and rural connectivity Dame Kiri Te Kanawa bows out New Zealand’s most famous soprano has announced her retirement from opera. Half-Māori Dame Kiri Te Kanawa gave herself an operatic send-off by performing the role of the Duchesse de Crackentorp in Donizetti’s La Fille du Régiment at the London Royal Opera House on her 70th birthday in March. Dame Kiri’s vibrant international career has spanned more than 40 years, during which she sang at the wedding of Prince Charles to Princess Diana and was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to opera. The soprano first saw La Fille du Régiment performed in Covent Garden by Luciano Pavarotti and Dame Joan Sutherland at the start of her career, and recounted how visiting the place again has brought back fond memories. “I’m loving being back at Covent Garden and re-connecting and celebrating that I have had a wonderful career,” she said. Nevertheless, Dame Kiri is looking forward to stepping out of the spotlight. “It’s a very, very high-energy job and a lot is expected from you,” she said. “You’re really expected to do more than you can cope with sometimes.” She stressed, however, that her retirement only affects roles in major operas, as she will still be performing a “full international schedule of concerts and recitals through until 2015 and beyond”. The Kiri Te Kanawa Foundation, which provides support to dedicated young musicians in New Zealand, will this year award £70,000 in commemoration of the star’s 70th birthday. UN Photo/Rick Bajornas SONY/Duncan Innes


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