Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Australia to press on for an election

Australia to press on for an election - Wednesday, March 11, 2009

AUSTRALIA will continue to pressure the interim government to take credible steps toward holding an election, said Australian Foreign Minister Stephen Smith.

In an interview with Radio Australia yesterday, Mr Smith said Fiji's economy had declined since the 2006 takeover and in order for the international community to remain in a position to help Fiji weather the global economic downturn, Fiji must commit to a timetable for an election.

His comments follow interim prime minister Commodore Bainimarama' s reiteration yesterday that he would not conform to outside influence on the issue of an election.

He said: "When we decide the date to have an election, in terms of national interest in Fiji, the CMAG and the PIF (Pacific IslandsForum) will have no choice but to accept that."

Mr Smith told Radio Australia he would keep the pressure up with a view to the elections going ahead.

"We stand ready, willing and able to render as much support and assistance to Fiji and the people of Fiji as we can but the refusal of Commodore Bainimarama and the interim government to start taking credible and sensible steps to democracy in the end will only continue to hurt the Fiji people and Fiji itself," he said.

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