13 Aug 2007

Tonga to allow Bainimarama to attend Forum summit

1:43 pm on 13 August 2007

The Tonga Government has announced that it is formally inviting all Pacific Islands Forum country leaders to attend this year's summit in Nuku'alofa.

The Government says it is sending out invitations, without discrimination, to all the regional leaders.

Last week, Tonga said a decision on whether Fiji's interim Prime Minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, would be allowed to attend would be made within two weeks.

This comes after Commodore Bainimarama had expressed his intention to go despite encouragement from the New Zealand and Australian governments for him not to attend.

The New Zealand Prime Minister, Helen Clark, has said that Commodore Bainimarama, risks being treated like a leper if he attends.

Last month, the acting chairman of the Forum, Papua New Guinea's Sir Michael Somare, suggested that a more suitable alternative for Fiji would be the interim Foreign Minister, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau.