22 Dec 2006

PNG's Somare is Forum interim chair

2:08 pm on 22 December 2006

The Pacific Islands Forum has announced that Papua New Guinea's prime minister, Sir Michael Somare, is now the interim Forum chair because of the military coup in Fiji.

The Forum says the military has prevented the deposed Fiji prime minister, Laisenia Qarase, from doing his job and consequently made it impossible for him to fulfil his duties as Forum Chair.

The Forum secretary-general, Greg Urwin, says PNG will assume the position until such time as a lawful head of government in Fiji can re-occupy the position, or until the next Forum leaders' meeting - whichever occurs sooner.

Mr Urwin reiterated that the crisis in Fiji must be resolved through negotiation, within the constitution and with respect for the rule of law.