26 Mar 2008

Fiji urged to intesify efforts for 2009 return to democracy

4:10 pm on 26 March 2008

A Pacific Islands Forum Foreign Ministers' meeting in Auckland has called on the Fiji interim government to intensify efforts to ensure elections can be held in the first quarter of 2009.

The Ministers, meeting to consider a report from the Joint Working Group on the situation in Fiji, have been told that a detailed timetable for election preparations would be considered by the interim Government in the middle of April.

Don Wiseman reports.

"The Ministers say this timetable must faithfully reflect the commitments already made to Forum Leaders and the Working Group, and are implemented without any further delay. They welcomed advice that the appointment of the Supervisor of Elections would be finalised by the end of this week, and stressed that the People's Charter process would not delay or distract from the holding of an election early next year. The Ministers also expressed their concern about human rights abuses, threats to media freedom and judicial independence, which they say are inconsistent with the creation of an environment in which free and fair elections could be held and Fiji's longer-term issues resolved. They also acknowledged that an overall resolution of issues in Fiji would be a long-term exercise, and that any resolution processes should be independent and inclusive."