20 Nov 2009

Forum personnel movement hampered by Fiji regime

2:52 pm on 20 November 2009

The Fiji interim regime appears to trying to frustrate the operations of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.

The regional agency, which has a staff of around a hundred, is headquartered in Suva, but Fiji has been suspended from the body since May for failing to hold elections this year.

Don Wiseman has more:

"Overseas staff at the Secretariat need visa exemptions - which it says is the standard procedure for diplomatic missions and international organisations. Normally, obtaining such exemptions is a simple matter, taking a couple of weeks, but some staff are being forced to wait much longer - in one case,the agency's director of economic governance, Dr Tanya Chakriya-Bowman, applied in August and is still waiting. She is being forced to work from the Secretariat's office in Sydney after a visitor's permit, given instead of the exemption, expired last week. In a statement the Secretariat also says it has been struggling to get customs clearances for equipment it needs to support its operations in Suva. Efforts to reach the Fiji regime to have it explain the delay have been unsuccessful."