22 Jan 2007

Forum eminent persons not due in Fiji until next week

3:12 pm on 22 January 2007

The Pacific Islands Forum says it's still confirming arrangements for an Eminent Persons Group to visit Fiji.

It's confimed that the visit will not take place before next week, contrary to reports on the Fiji Military Forces website suggesting the eminent persons would meet interim prime minister Frank Bainimarama this Wednesday.

Forum spokesperson Johnson Honimae says the group's itinerary is still being finalised.

"Arrangements are still underway pertaining to the series of meetings that the Forum Eminent Persons Group will be holding with, hopefully, all the stakeholders in the situation here currently in Fiji."

Mr Homimae would not confirm if the ousted prime minister, Laisenia Qarase would be one of those stakeholders.

Mr Qarase has been confined to his home island in the Lau group by the military, and there has been speculation in the Fiji media about whether he would be allowed to travel to Suva to meet the group, if they would have to travel to Lau, or if any meeting at all would be permitted.

The eminent persons group is expected to include the Vanuatu foreign minister, the Samoan environment minister, a retired PNG chief justice, and a retired commander of the Australian Defence Forces.