22 Feb 2007

Fiji interim PM accuses Australian and New Zealand governments of bullying

10:35 am on 22 February 2007

Fiji's interim prime minister, Commodore Bainimarama, has accused New Zealand and Australia of being insensitive to the problems and aspirations of Pacific island countries.

In a statement, Commodore Bainimarama says public comments by the two dominant powers within the Forum once again reveal the "bullying tactics" of the two countries.

He says "this clearly illustrates the insensitiveness and lack of understanding of these two dominant powers within the Forum about the special circumstances, problems and aspirations of Pacific island countries."

Commodore Bainimarama made the comment as the New Zealand and Australian governments expressed dissatisfaction with the Fiji interim administration's plan to hold general elections by 2010.

Both countries have called on Fiji to follow the recommendation of the Forum Eminent Persons Group whose leaked report says elections should be held within 24 months.

Commodore Bainimarama says foreign ministers of Pacific Forum countries, who commissioned the report, have not yet been given the opportunity to discuss and evaluate its merits.

He says it is therefore intriguing that both New Zealand and Australia have started commenting on the contents and recommendations of the leaked report.