28 Jan 2009

NZ PM says Forum has taken hard line on Fiji

2:32 pm on 28 January 2009

New Zealand's Prime Minister, John Key, says Fiji has been sent a clear message that it must return to democracy, with partial suspension now on the table.

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

At its meeting in Papua New Guinea yesterday, the Pacific leaders also called on Fiji to go to the polls by the end of this year, and for the military to withdraw from civilian politics.

If that does not happen, the leaders say Fiji will be suspended from going to any Forum meetings, and blocked from any benefits as a Forum member, including new financial assistance.

Mr Key says the Forum leaders have taken a tough stand.

"The Forum sent a strong message to Fiji that it expects to see that country put on a pathway towards democratic elections and it expects to see that complete by the end of 2009. Yes I do think that it's hard enough. It's a clear direct message and it's one the Fiji can comply with if they have the political will to do so."