19 Jan 2009

Forum chair Talagi criticised by Fiji regime over post-coup stance

1:31 pm on 19 January 2009

The Chairman of the Pacific Islands Forum, Toke Talagi, is coming under strong criticism from Fiji for his comments over the political situation there.

The attacks on Niue's Premier come a week ahead of a special Forum leaders meeting in Papua New Guinea to discuss the Fiji situation and its refusal to hold elections by March as promised in 2007.

Philippa Tolley has more:

"Fiji's interim Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama has written to Mr Talagi dismissing his comments on Fiji as ill informed."

He says Niue's leader has never been to Fiji to assesses the realities on the ground nor communicated with him in any substantial way about the situation.

The Commodore said despite Mr Talagi's non-engagement, he continued to make, what he called, irresponsible and incorrect statements

At the same time, a minor political party in Fiji has called for the Forum to split.

A spokesman for the Conservative Alliance Matanitu Vanua Party, Ropate Sivo, says Fiji should stick with its Melanesian brothers.

He has urged the prime minister of Papua New Guinea, Sir Michael Somare, to take the lead in merging all Melanesian countries to make one big state.

Sir Michael has called on New Zealand and Australia to take a back seat at talks next week and let the PNG, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu sort out the situation in the Melanesian way.