23 Jan 2009

Fiji debate continues over PNG Forum attendance

4:07 pm on 23 January 2009

There is continuing debate in Fiji over whether the interim Prime Minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, should attend next Tuesday's Pacific Islands Forum special meeting or stay home to coordinate disaster relief after last week's floods.

The interim interim Prime Minister has nominated the interim attorney-general, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, and the Permanent Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Ratu Isoa Gavidi, to attend the gathering, which is to consider targetted measures in response to Fiji's broken promise to hold elections by March.

The General Voters Party says if the Forum leaders are genuine friends of Fiji, they should defer the meeting and reconvene in Nadi so they can see the aftermath of the floods themselves.

The deposed Prime Minister, Laisenia Qarase, says having the interim Attorney General attend is an insult to the region's leaders, and the Commodore should go.

The former opposition leader, Mick Beddoes, agrees, adding that the leaders should continue and take whatever action they plan to take against Fiji.

But the Fiji Labour Party has supported the Commodore's decision, saying Forum leaders should understand the extreme critical situation Fiji is facing, and exercise discretion and defer the meeting.