Pacific will not waver over Fiji: New Zealand PM
The Pacific Islands Forum is expected to reaffirm its opposition to the military-led Fiji government when the body meets in Vanuatu next week, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said today.world Updated: Jul 26, 2010 10:48 IST
The Pacific Islands Forum is expected to reaffirm its opposition to the military-led Fiji government when the body meets in Vanuatu next week, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key said on Monday.
Fiji's self-appointed prime minister Voreqe Bainimarama, who seized power in 2006, has put back a return to democratic elections to 2014 and said they could be further delayed because of interference from New Zealand and Australia.
The Pacific island nation was suspended from the 16-country regional bloc following the coup, and speaking on Television New Zealand Key said he expected members to retain that stance at next week's meeting.
"I think we should remain resolute in our commitment to excluding Fiji from the forum until he (Bainimarama) demonstrates he is going to hold those elections," Key said.
New Zealand and Australia both refused to attend last week's "Engaging the Pacific" meeting organised by Fiji to replace the cancelled Melanesian Spearhead Group (MSG) summit in Suva.
Bainimarama accused Australia of pressuring nations not to attend the MSG and expelled Australia's acting high commissioner in retaliation.
At the same time, he warned that elections already put back from 2009 to 2014 could be further delayed because of "constant interfering" by New Zealand and Australia.
But Key said there was no reason why the elections should not be held in 2014 and New Zealand was prepared to help financially or in any other way to ensure that happened.
He said New Zealand had been reasonable with its sanctions against Fiji and had tried to reach out and offer assistance.