18 Dec 2006

Forum gives reaction to events in Fiji

6:42 am on 18 December 2006

The Suva based Pacific Islands Forum has given an official response to the recent events in Fiji.

The Forum's Secretary General, Greg Urwin, has advised that the position of Fiji in the Forum is now under consideration.

Mr Urwin also expressed his deep regret over developments in the past two weeks.

He said the impacts of the military led removal of the democratically elected Government were already beginning to have serious consequences not only for the economy and the welfare of the people of Fiji but also the international reputation of Fiji and the region as a whole.

Mr Urwin said the crisis in Fiji must be resolved through negotiation, within the Constitution and with respect for the rule of law.

The statement said that as the ousted Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase, could no long exercise leadership it also made it practically impossible for him to fulfill his duties as the present chair of the forum.

Forum Leaders are said to be considering an alternative chairing arrangement.

Mr Urwin said the Forum was consulting with the military regime to to ascertain their willingness to speak with a Forum Eminent Persons' Group, as approved by Forum Foreign Ministers in Sydney at the beginning of the month.