10 Jul 2007

US Congressional delegation urges no delay in Fiji election

10:33 am on 10 July 2007

A United States Congressional delegation which visited Fiji wants the March 2009 deadline met and says any delay would be unacceptable.

The delegation, headed by Congressman Donald Payne, met with the interim foreign affairs minister, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, and members of the ousted SDL government at Nadi on Sunday.

Mr Payne also spoke by telephone with the deposed prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, who lives on his home island in the Lau group.

The interim government briefed the four member delegation on the reasons for the military intervention, but Mr Payne says they aren't recognising the military takeover or the interim government as the true voice of the people.

Mr Payne says the delegation is willing to help speed up the election process but if the deadline is not met, Fiji could face further sanctions.

The delegation's report will be discussed by the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Congress and within the State Department.