27 Oct 2008

Fiji political leaders agree to further dialogue, following key meeting

8:20 pm on 27 October 2008

Fiji's political leaders have met to discuss the way forward towards general elections and a return to parliamentary democracy, agreeing to commit to further dialogue on the process.

Commodore Frank Bainimarama held the meeting, which included 14 political parties, in Suva on Monday morning - the first such gathering since he carried out a coup in 2006.

He says Fiji must return to Parliamentary democracy, but that that doesn't mean simply convening an election and handing power back to the traditional, self-interested, elitist leaders.

The Fiji Labour Party leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, says the meeting was relatively cordial, with no heated moments.

"There was general discussion about to have elections as quickly as possible. There are of course matters to be attended to before the electuon are held, and this principally concerns electoral reform. In out future meetings we hope to discuss this, and arrive at some conclusion."

Mahendra Chaudhry says the leaders were given 5 weeks to submit a list of issues they want to discuss further.

In a statement issued following the meeting, the interim government said the participants were unanimous in reiterating Fiji's request to the Commonwealth Secretariat and the United Nations to urgently convene and jointly facilitate the proposed President's Political Dialogue Forum.