8 Jan 2009

Fiji regime rules out 2009 election, risking loss of massive EU assistance

11:05 am on 8 January 2009

Fiji's interim prime minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, says he won't organise elections this year even if it means that the European Union will withhold hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for the sugar industry.

Commodore Bainimarama says while EU assistance would be of help, he is not prepared to compromise the interim regime's vision for Fiji just because some carrots are being dangled.

He made the comment after the ousted prime minister Laisenia Qarase said the interim regime had to hold elections if there was to be any chance of saving the ailing sugar industry.

Commodore Bainimarama says Mr Qarase should be the last person to talk about saving the sugar industry because he did nothing in his six years to resolve the expiring land leases situation, the political interferences and the inefficiencies.

Fiji stands to miss out on 200 million US dollars in EU assistance.

The interim regime is yet to say when it plans to hold elections and relinquish power.