26 Jun 2007

Australia's Foreign Minister says Fiji has not done enough to get sanctions lifted

2:05 pm on 26 June 2007

The Australian Foreign Affairs minister, Alexander Downer, says sanctions against Fiji should not be lifted until the interim administration takes practical steps towards restoring democracy.

Speaking to News.com, Mr Downer said the commitment made by Fiji's interim regime that elections will be held in the first quarter of 2009, is not enough for Australia to lift sanctions imposed on Fiji since the coup.

Australia has suspended part of its aid programme to Fiji and imposed travel bans on Commodore Frank Bainimarama and members of his interim administration.

Defence co-operation was also suspended.

Fiji's interim regime last week said it had reached an agreement, in principle, to hold elections by March 2009 but Mr Downer says they want to see the principle turned into practice and how this would happen.

He reportedly discussed Fiji during talks with the European Commissioner for External Relations.

The European Union had threatened to withhold aid if Fiji did not hold elections by March 2009.