27 Jan 2009

Sanctions 'must not hurt people of Fiji'

3:23 pm on 27 January 2009

The Foreign Minister of Papua New Guinea says Pacific leaders must ensure that any sanctions imposed on Fiji do not hurt the people of that country, rather than the leadership.

Sam Abal spoke to Radio New Zealand ahead of a retreat for Pacific Islands Forum leaders in Port Moresby.

Mr Abal is a member of the Ministerial Contact Group, whose report on Fiji's readiness to hold elections will be considered by leaders on Tuesday evening.

That report will express serious concerns about Fiji's lack of progress towards democracy and will recommend a range of sanctions, including suspension from the forum.

Mr Abal says leaders are very aware that in the past sanctions have hurt the people on the ground, especially the underprivileged, rather than the government.

He says the leaders will keep this in mind as they decide what action, if any, to take against Fiji. No forum member has ever been suspended.