13 Apr 2007

Fiji Interim prime minister snubs senior US official

8:50 am on 13 April 2007

Fiji's interim prime minister, Commodore Bainimarama, has refused to meet a visiting senior government official from the United States.

Instead, the assistant US secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs, Glyn Davies, was only able to meet the interim foreign affairs minister, Ratu Epeli Ganilau, and the interim finance minister, Mahendra Chaudhry.

Mr Davies described his failure to meet Commodore Bainimarama as a missed opportunity.

He said he was in Fiji to tell the interim administration to get the military off the streets, lift the state of emergency, and restore human rights and civil liberties.

As well, he said the United States wants military personnel including Commodore Bainimarama to withdraw from government positions, cease all interference in the judiciary and reinstate the chief justice.

Mr Davies said the United States wants Fiji to hold general elections earlier than in 18 months.

He said while he understands the interest in improving Fiji's electoral process, it is more important to transfer authority to an elected civilian government quickly.

He said a quick return to democracy is not just a political necessity but an economic one as Fiji's future prosperity depends on it.