28 Jan 2009

NZ's prime minister says electoral officials in Fiji say elections can happen in six months

12:17 pm on 28 January 2009

The Prime Minister John Key says New Zealand electoral officials working in Fiji have indicated it could hold an election in six months.

The Pacific Islands Forum has given Fiji a deadline of May the 1st to announce a date for 2009 elections.

If that does not happen, Fiji will be suspended from Forum meetings and blocked from member benefits, including financial assistance.

Mr Key says electoral officials in Fiji have told a ministerial contact group that it's possible to hold an election this year.

"We do have people involved in the process and we can put more people and more resources into the process if that's what it takes. We've got skin in the game and we can put more in it if that's going to get Frank Bainimarama and Fiji over the line."

The Prime Minister, John Key.

Meanwhile, the United States strongly has backed a call by South Pacific leaders for Fiji to restore democracy.

State Department spokesman, Robert Wood, says the US strongly endorses the Forum's position and urges Fiji to move immediately to restore democracy and to hold free and fair elections by the end of this year.