24 Jun 2003

EU maintains warning over withholding Fiji aid money

6:16 am on 24 June 2003

The European Union says it's waiting on the outcome of Fiji Supreme Court case on the multi-party cabinet case, before it releases 22 million US dollars in aid to Fiji.

The EU says it will withhold the aid, meant to finance a major education project for rural dwellers and the underprivileged, if Fiji does not implement the court ruling.

The acting head of the EU office in Suva, Maria Ralha, says it's not so much a threat as maintaining an earlier decision to only approve the fund when the constitutionality question was resolved.

"Of course we don't want to interfere with the ruling. The ruling is the basis on which the government must act and that's what we are looking at what will the government do as a response to the court ruling. If it says the government should not change anything then that's brilliant but if the decision is otherwise then we will have to look at what the government does about it if it is sort of a complex situation it will go back to a joint EU/ACP group."

Maria Ralha says the EU is looking at compliance with the rule of law, good governance and respect of human rights.