Foreign Minister elected Vice-Chair of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG)

Media release:

16 April 2012

Foreign Minister Bob Carr today participated in the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) meeting in London and was elected as Vice Chair of the group.

It is the first international office he has been appointed to since being sworn in as Foreign Minister on March 13, 2012.

CMAG comprises the foreign ministers of nine Commonwealth countries: Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, Jamaica, Maldives, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Trinidad and Tobago (Chair) and Vanuatu.

This CMAG meeting considered a range of matters including the situation in Maldives and Fiji.

Senator Carr said Australia is a strong supporter of Commonwealth values and he was pleased to participate today in his first meeting of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group charged with upholding those values.

"Today's meeting built on the strong outcomes of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Perth last year.

"As directed by leaders in Perth, we considered how CMAG can play a more active and preventive role to strengthen democracy around the world and help avert serious or persistent violations of Commonwealth values.

"We had productive discussions about overcoming the political impasse in Maldives, and heard from Commonwealth Special Envoy to Maldives, Sir Don McKinnon, as well as from representatives of current President Waheed and former President Nasheed.

"CMAG's key message to all parties is they must engage in dialogue, with a view to reaching agreement on early elections.

"On Fiji, CMAG welcomed the commencement of a constitutional consultation process and election preparations, noting promises that these processes will be inclusive, transparent, and conducted with integrity and honesty.

"CMAG also expressed concern that meaningful restrictions on human rights remain in place, and urged the interim Government to restore full respect for human rights," Senator Carr said.

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