18 Oct 2007

New Zealand's PM says Pacific Forum leaders wanted Fiji elections

12:05 pm on 18 October 2007

The New Zealand Prime Minister, Helen Clark, says the commitment by Fiji's interim Prime Minister for a return to democracy by March 2009 may be a recognition he lacked support for his present stance among regional leaders

At the Pacific Islands Forum summit retreat yesterday in Neiafu in Tonga the leaders also won an agreement from Commodore Frank Bainimarama that the military would respect the result of an election to be contested under the 1997 Constitution.

Miss Clark says Commodore Bainimarama found during the summit that there was no sympathy anywhere among the Pacific leaders for his view that an election was not a priority.

"And that was the starting position, that the elections scheduled wouldn't necessarily solve anything. The leaders made it very clear they wanted elections, they wanted it within the constitutional law of Fiji, and they wanted to know that the result would be accepted, and they wanted to know that everybody could participate."