1 May 2009

Fiji interim regime writes to Forum on eve of expected suspension

3:38 pm on 1 May 2009

Fiji's interim government says it has written to the chair of the Pacific Islands Forum on the eve of the expiry of a deadline which will see Fiji suspended from the body.

The interim prime minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, who has flown to Indonesia, has reportedly sought a new dialogue, saying Fiji's circumstances have been changed with last month's abrogation of the constitution and a decision to put off elections for another five years.

He has also called for talks with the Australian and New Zealand prime ministers to explain why he won't hold elections this year.

His call for talks comes after he refused to attend the Forum meeting in Papua New Guinea in January and boycotted the Forum in Niue last year.

In 2007, he said Fiji would hold elections by March of this year but he then revisited his position to now say they won't be held for another five years as he wants to change the electoral system.

The interim attorney general, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, who is the acting interim prime minister, has told Auckland's Radio Tarana that New Zealand and Australia's demand for elections is shortsighted as the interim regime wants to change the electoral system.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum says it is up to Fiji decide when elections will be held.

"What's good for Fiji needs to be decided by the Fijian people and we need to look at the ground reality of what is happening in Fiji at the moment."

Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum

Meanwhile in an interview with the newspaper, The Australian, Commodore Bainimarama says he thinks the Public Emergency Regulations in Fiji will be extended.

The Emergency Regulations were announced by the President three weeks ago and were due to expire on May the tenth.

No political meetings are allowed under the emergency regulations.

The Fiji media has also been heavily censored since they came into effect.