1 Feb 2007

Eminent persons group completes its fact finding mission into Fiji coup

9:02 pm on 1 February 2007

The four-member Eminent Persons Group sent to Fiji by the Pacific Forum has completed its fact-finding mission.

Its chairman and Vanuatu's deputy prime minister, Sato Kilman, says during their consultations they heard a wide range of views, including on the Constitution, the underlying causes of the coup, suggestions for the way forward and human rights abuses.

Mr Kilman says there is general consensus among all the people of Fiji that the country should return to democracy as soon as possible.

He says their report will be ready in two weeks and will be submitted to a meeting of Pacific foreign ministers before it is released.

The group's last meeting was with the deposed prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, who pressed for general elections without delay.

Mr Qarase told the eminent persons there is no excuse for the three- to five-year time frame being given by the interim administration.

Mr Qarase also complained that the military was violating his human rights by confining him to his home island since he was ousted.