29 Sep 2008

Commonwealth backs Forum's call for Fiji to hold elections as soon as possible

4:26 pm on 29 September 2008

The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group has backed the Pacific Islands Forum's call for Fiji to return to democracy as soon as possible.

The group met in New York at the weekend, and made its support clear for the Forum roadmap to return legitimate government to Fiji .

The Forum in Niue earlier expressed its support for the Commonwealth-led process of independent and inclusive political dialogue.

Commodore Frank Bainimarama told the UN the punitive measures that continue to be taken against Fiji, including travel sanctions, have stopped Fiji making as much progress as it should have.

But New Zealand's representative to the Commonwealth group, Phil Goff, says the next steps are clear if there is no progress towards elections.

"Well, for the Commonwealth it's quite clear cut. There is suspension from the Councils of the Commonwealth 2 years after the democratic process has been interrupted by something like a coup. For the Forum, the Pacific Forum leaders decided unanimously that they would consider a range of options if there was no movement which did include suspension."

New Zealand's Trade Minister, Phil Goff.