20 Aug 2008

Fiji like Zimbabwe, says Clark

2:32 pm on 20 August 2008

New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark says the situation over Fiji is reminiscent of Zimbabwe in the run-up to its suspension from the Commonwealth.

Fiji's interim prime minister, Commmodore Frank Bainimarama, is boycotting a meeting of the Pacific Islands Forum in Nuie.

He has hinted that Fiji may withdraw from the forum altogether if ministers accept a report on elections in Fiji presented by the group's foreign ministers.

Miss Clark says Commodore Bainimarama's refusal to front up to his peers reminds her of Robert Mugabe and the eventual suspension of Zimbabwe from the Commonwealth in March 2002.

Miss Clark says the situation has a feeling of deja vu.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says Pacific leaders will be looking for fresh measures to hold Fiji's military government to account.

Commodore Bainimarama seized power in December 2006. It was the country's fourth coup since 1987.

He says Fiji is being pressured to return to democratic rule too quickly. Mr Bainimarama gave a commitment at last year's Pacific Islands Forum in Tonga to hold elections by March 2009.