Monday, August 25, 2008

‘Fiji PM ridiculed Forum’s independence’

‘Fiji PM ridiculed Forum’s independence’

Fiji’s interim Prime Minister is ridiculing the independence and integrity of all members of the Forum, says Samoa’s Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi.Malielegaoi reportedly said Pacific Island leaders agonized for hours over the use of the word "suspension" while debating their response to Fiji’s boycott of the summit, according to Radio New Zealand.Tuilaepa speaking in Niue said it does not help Commodore Bainimarama’s cause to continue playing the tactic of attributing decisions of the forum to the influence of either New Zealand or Australia.Also Solomon Islands Prime Minister Dr Derek Sikua said despite counterclaims from Fiji, the threat to suspend her from the Pacific Islands Forum is supported by all the island countries, including those from Melanesia.The Forum sent a blunt signal to Fiji’s interim Government last week saying it had to re-commit to elections under the current Constitution by March next year or they would consider its suspension.Interim Attorney General, Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum, said the stance is a New Zealand/Australia initiative and is not indicative of the position of all Pacific countries.But Dr Sikua said that at the Melanesian Spearhead Group summit earlier this year in Vanuatu, the other Melanesian countries strongly urged Commodore Bainimarama to hold elections in March as he had promised.“...and that’s been our stand, we have been very consistent in supporting the commitments he has made to the 2007 Forum in Tonga. So this is not Australia and New Zealand this is the Forum’s stand that we continue to urge him to meet the commitment that he has pledged,” said Dr Sikua.Fiji’s former interim Finance Minister Mahendra Chaudhry last night said the Forum is in danger of losing its reputation if it continues to follow the path being advanced by Australia and New Zealand, adding there has been a lack of strong leadership among island nations.

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