25 Apr 2007

Electoral expert to assess Fiji's capability of holding general elections within 2 years

1:44 pm on 25 April 2007

An electoral expert is to be appointed this week to undertake an assessment on whether Fiji can hold general elections within a 2 year timetable.

The European Union says it struck an agreement with the interim administration that elections would be held by March 2009 but the interim prime minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, has appeared to back away from this commitment.

He says it will depend on the independent assessment as to whether the country will be ready by then.

This will be undertaken by a contractor selected by the Forum Fiji Joint Working group.

A member of that group, New Zealand's High Commissioner to Fiji, Michael Green, says an appointment should be made shortly.

"Fiji believes they need a longer period than Forum ministers believe they need. And, because the working group can't simply restate the two positions and hope that eventually someone will give way, they've decided to contract an independent person, or persons with considerable experience in electoral management to give an independent assessment of how long it takes."

Michael Green.