edit Australasian Press Association — 16.JAN.2008 — Tokelauans agree to compromise following Fijian warnings
- FAKAOFO, TOKELAU — After over a month without progress, delegates to Tokelau's constitutional Fono, or convention, have gathered again in a spirit of compromise. The tiny Pacific islands, currently a dependency of Fiji, had previously been unable to find common ground on the issue of loyalty to Fiji's King Thakombao V. Fiji loyalists, many of them members of the sizeable ethnic Chinese community on the atoll of Nukunonu, walked out of the convention in December, bringing the constitutional process to a halt.
Tokelauans received a strong motivation to reconvene Friday when a spokesman for Thakombao gave a statement strongly implying that if the islanders cannot create a plan for a viable government by the end of the wet season, then Fiji might go back on its promise to let Tokelau secede from Fijian Polynesia.
On the first day of the re-formed meeting, delegates seemed eager to find points that both sides could agree on, putting off dealing with the major controversies for now. Among other things, the convention has decided upon a new national motto: Fakatahi o tagata, "One people". Whether the delegates will be able to reach agreement on more crucial issues remains to be seen. [BK]