11 Sep 2009

Commonwealth envoy ends two-day Fiji visit

3:16 pm on 11 September 2009

The special Commonwealth envoy to Fiji, Sir Paul Reeves, says he is convinced that a national dialogue that includes all the major political players is the only way Fiji can find its way back to a sustainable democracy.

Sir Paul made the comment after a two-day visit to Fiji which was suspended from the Commonwealth last week as the interim regime says it won't relinquish power to an elected government before 2014.

He met representatives of the interim regime but was not able to meet the elected leaders ousted by the 2006 military coup.

Sir Paul says he expressed his view that it was vital to re-start broad-based dialogue on electoral and constitutional issues as soon as possible, rather than delay this important work until 2012.

But despite that he says he's not discouraged by subsequent statements from the interim prime minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, that it remains committed to a five-year roadmap towards elections.

"Was I disappointed, well I think realistically, I wasn't too surprised but I would hope that I would have the opportunity to return and to discuss the matter further with him and just see whether that position is still as firmly adhered to in the future as he is saying it is now."

Sir Paul says he has left Fiji with a clear understanding of the interim government's plans for the country.