30 May 2007

Bainimarama to attend Forum Summit in Tonga

7:39 am on 30 May 2007

Fiji's interim prime minister, Commodore Bainimarama, is expected to attend this year's Pacific Forum leaders' summit in Tonga in October.

Fiji TV reports that this will be Commodore Bainimarama's first visit overseas since the military takeover in December.

The permanent secretary of the Prime Minister's Office, Parmesh Chand, says the Forum meeting is for heads of government and in Fiji's case, the interim prime minister is the head of government.

Mr Chand says Fiji is still a full member of the Forum and enjoys the same privileges as other Forum member countries.

He says there is no reason why Commodore Bainimarama should be treated otherwise.

USP academic and political commentator, Dr Steven Ratuva, says Commodore Bainimarama's attendance would be good for Fiji after all the negative portrayal of what has happened in the country.

Dr Ratuva says personal, informal meetings with Pacific leaders will give Commodore Bainimarama the opportunity to get rid of the image of himself as a coup leader and military dictator.