26 Feb 2007

Australian foreign minister calls for quick hand over to democratic government in Fiji

8:18 pm on 26 February 2007

The Australian foreign minister, Alexander Downer, says it is vital for the wellbeing of the people of Fiji that the country has democratic elections as soon as possible.

Last week the military regime signalled that it would 2010 before elections could be held while leaked parts of an eminent persons report says a vote should happen within 18 to 24 months at the latest.

Pacific foreign ministers are to meet in Port Vila in the middle of next month to study the EPG report.

Mr Downer, who met with his New Zealand counterpart, Winston Peters, in Wellington today, says waiting three and a half years for a return to democracy threatens the economic and social development of Fiji.

"Having the country run by the military isn't going to be much of an option for the country over a period of years, so the quicker they can you know hand over to a civil democratic government the better."

The New Zealand Foreign minister, Winston Peters, says logistically there is no impediment to Fiji holding elections within months.