16 Mar 2011

Fiji's Bainimamara hails MSG summit as new beginning

2:28 pm on 16 March 2011

The interim Fiji leader, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, says the participation of three new countries in this month's Melanesian Spearhead Group meeting in Fiji signals a new beginning for the sub-regional body.

Commodore Bainimarama, who is the chair of the MSG, has welcomed the involvement of East Timor, Indonesia and Luxembourg in the meeting.

Fiji was due to host the summit last July but the then chair Vanuatu's prime minister, Edward Natapei, cancelled the meeting, raising concerns about an unelected leader assuming the chair of the organisation.

Mr Natapei said that this would have threatened the fundamental democratic principles of the MSG.

When Mr Natapei was voted out of office late last year the path was cleared for Commodore Bainimarama to become chair.

The Fiji Sun reports that Indonesia and East Timor will be participating as observers this year while a representative from Luxembourg will attend as a special guest.

The meetings officially start next Wednesday when trade officials hold talks, with the leaders' summit scheduled for March the 31st at the Vale ni Bose complex in Suva.