16 Jul 2008

Forum ministers see no impediment to March election in Fiji

5:48 pm on 16 July 2008

Pacific Islands Forum Ministers say they have seen and heard nothing in their meetings in Suva that would suggest elections in Fiji cannot be held by March.

The ministers reached the conclusion after two days of talks with Fiji leaders amid regional efforts to restore democratic government following the 2006 military coup.

The interim prime minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, has signalled that conditions are not right for Fiji to go to the polls next year.

But Australia's foreign minister, Stephen Smith, says elections could go ahead.

"There is nothing that we have seen or heard which would stand in the way of that occurring, provided that there is the political will. The political will in the first instance, primarily if not exclusively from the interim government, but also the political dialogue which ensues between the political players in Fiji which we both encourage and welcome."

Stephen Smith, the foreign minister of Australia