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1995 - Mr Major’s Doorstep Interview in Auckland

Below is the text of Mr Major’s doorstep interview in Auckland on Wednesday 8th November 1995.


QUESTION:

Prime Minister, can I ask you what specific action you would like to see CHOGM take in an effort to pressure the Nigerian authorities into clemency?

PRIME MINISTER:

Firstly, let me say that I think it was a flawed trial and I think it was an unjust verdict and the sentences that have been feared, and sadly, I hear, confirmed, should not be carried out. I will certainly be asking the Nigerians for clemency and I imagine many others will at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference. What action will be taken subsequently I think is a matter we will have to discuss over the next day or so.

QUESTION:

Will you seek a specific meeting with the Nigerian representative here?

PRIME MINISTER:

We will make sure that they are aware of our view and aware of the fact that we believe clemency should be offered.

QUESTION:

Do you think the time is approaching when there should be consideration of suspending Nigeria from the Commonwealth?

PRIME MINISTER:

I think the first thing to do is to determine precisely what can be done to help Mr Saro-Wiwa and the other defendants who are at present under sentence of death. I think that is the matter most on my mind at the moment. Subsequent action will have to await and see what happens as a result of our appeals for clemency.

QUESTION:

Does not their action though deserve pariah status, as Mr Saro-Wiwa’s son suggests?

PRIME MINISTER:

I think Mr Saro-Wiwa’s son is performing magnificently on behalf of his father. I don’t think that he can do much more than he is and he has my support in what he is doing. But for the moment I don’t think it is helpful to anyone other than to concentrate on making sure these sentences are not carried out.

QUESTION:

Do you think there is a particular onus on black African leaders to attempt to exert influence on Nigeria in this situation?

PRIME MINISTER:

I have not had the chance of meeting my fellow Commonwealth leaders from Africa yet in this conference. But I would be very surprised if they did not share my views.

QUESTION:

In particular Mr Mandela perhaps?

PRIME MINISTER:

Mr Mandela will speak for himself. But I would think most of our colleagues from Africa will share exactly the views I have just expressed.