26 Jan 2009

Onus on Forum to show leadership on Fiji, says New Zealand PM

3:02 pm on 26 January 2009

New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key says there is an onus on the Pacific Islands Forum to show leadership at the special meeting in Papua New Guinea tomorrow to discuss the situation in Fiji .

The meeting is for leaders to consider measures in response to the Fiji interim regime's broken commitment to hold elections by March.

John Key says he doesn't want to premeditate the Forum's decision on Fiji's possible suspension, but says if the regional body is not prepared to act, the Commonwealth Secretariat almost certainly will.

"The decision about whether Fiji returns to democracy is something that Frank Bainimarama controls. If there's no political intent and no goodwill, it doesn't matter how much other countries express their displeasure at that, it won't happen. I think that Mr Bainimarama actually will listen to the Forum at one level because it's essentially a cllection of his peers."

Meanwhile, John Key has defended the decision to go ahead with the special Pacific Islands Forum leaders meeting in PNG.

Commodore Frank Bainimarama pulled out of the talks to deal with the aftermath of the recent flooding and nominated his attorney-general to represent Fiji.

However despite a request by the Commodore for deferral of the meeting by two weeks being accepted by PNG's Prime Minister Sir Michael Somare, the Forum chair Toke Talagi overruled it at the weekend.

John Key says it would've been practically difficult to accommodate the deferral.

I made it pretty clear what I thought was the best date, what the risks were if there was a delay, and what the implications could be if there was a delay, and also just the practialities, that we had quite a number of Pacific leaders who are travelling up to PNG with us already with us in New Zealand or on their way to New Zealand.