Monday, July 28, 2008

Rice piles pressure for March election

Rice piles pressure for March election
Monday, July 28, 2008

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met Pacific foreign ministers in Samoa on Saturday and said she would press Fiji's military rulers to hold elections as promised in March 2009.

Ms Rice arrived in Samoa from Auckland for a three-hour stop-over where she joined more than a dozen ministers from the Pacific Forum to discuss Fiji, maritime security and climate change, among other issues, said a senior US official.

Reuters reported Fiji's interim Foreign Affairs Minister Ratu Epeli Nailatikau arrived late for the meeting at a holiday resort near the airport.

Ms Rice had made clear beforehand that she planned to give him a strong message.

"There is especially hard work to do concerning Fiji where a return to democracy is an absolute necessity," Rice said in Auckland late on Saturday before leaving for Apia.

"Those elections should not be based on any other conditions but the ability to hold an election, something that the Government of Fiji has promised to do and has promised to do next year and should do forthright," she said.

Interim Attorney-General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said yesterday Ms Rice's comments would not change anything.

He said anyone concerned about Fiji's situation would agree to the need for fair and free election achievable through electoral reforms.

"This system needs to be in compliance with the UN declaration on human rights," he said,

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum said the election could be held earlier than 2010 if the electoral reforms were in place.

Qarase supports call for March poll
Monday, July 28, 2008

Update: 4:19PM OUSTED Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase says he supports the United States efforts to encourage Fiji to hold elections in March next year.

Mr Qarase said the March date was still achievable judging from the interim Governments progress on the electoral process.

"We welcome her and her governments position as it is not different from New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific Islands Forum position on the issue," he said.

Pacnews states that US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met Pacific foreign ministers in Samoa on Saturday including interim Foreign Affairs Minister Ratu Epeli Nailatikau.

Ms Rice said she would press Fiji's military rulers to hold elections as promised in March 2009, reports TVNZ.

Ms Rice arrived in Samoa from Auckland for a three-hour stop-over where she joined more than a dozen ministers from the Pacific Forum to discuss Fiji, maritime security and climate change, among other issues, said a senior US official.

National Federation Party secretary Pramod Rae welcomed the position taken by Ms Rice and other international governments.

"We hope the government will listen and take heed of her advise," he said.

Ratu Epeli arrived late for the meeting at a holiday resort near the airport.

Ms Rice had made it clear beforehand that she planned to give him a strong message.

"There is especially hard work to do concerning Fiji where a return to democracy is an absolute necessity," Rice said in Auckland late on Saturday before leaving for Apia.

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