21 Aug 2008

Forum stance on Fiji not reflected by members' individual views, says interim AG

7:55 pm on 21 August 2008

There's been a mixed reaction in Fiji to an indication by Pacific islands Forum leaders that they could consider suspending Fiji from the Forum.

Fiji's interim attorney-general, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, says he doubts the Forum stance is backed by all Forum countries.

He says suspending a founding Forum member would not be an easy task.

"I think the stance that's been taken by Australia and New Zealand is not necessarily indicative of the position that's taken by all the Pacific island countries. A lot of the Pacific countries have expressed on an individual basis their view on Fiji and that's definitely not the view taken by Australia and New Zealand."

But Fiji's ousted Prime Minister has welcomed the move and says Forum leaders are displaying good leadership on the issue.

Laisenia Qarase says it's up to the interim regime to carefully consider without emotion the Forum's recommendations and suggestions and take steps to avoid suspension.

They have made right decisions, they are making good suggestions. Really they haven't got much choice else. They are doing what is best for Fiji and we can't ask them more than that. It is really up to the interim government now to accept those reccomendations and suggestions, consider them very carefully without any emotion and then follow through.

However the leader of Fiji's Labour Party Mahendra Chaudhry says Fiji wouldn't stand to lose much if it was suspended from the Forum.

Mr Chaudhry, who last week resigned as the interim Finance Minister and withdrew his party from the interim regime, says the Forum's threat is a bad move.

One should not be talking about suspending Fiji from the Forum but more or less trying to understand the situation that we face here and what is being done to overcome the differences, the political differences that exist in Fiji between the different political parties and the sections of the community. In terms of what Fiji stands to lose if it is suspended, I don't think it is much.

Mahendra Chaudhry says he finds the Forum of little relevance to the development of island nations because of the dominance of Australia and New Zealand.

He says he's confident that other island nations wouldn't support moves to suspend Fiji.