31 May 2007

Decision on who attends Forum Summit leaders meeting up to members

7:37 am on 31 May 2007

The Forum Secretariat says it is up to the members of the Pacific Islands Forum to decide who will represent them at the Forum Leaders summit in Tonga in October.

This follows reports that Fiji's interim prime minister and coup leader, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, is planning to attend the summit in Nuku'alofa.

After the military takeover at the end of last year, the Forum re-allocated the chairman's position from Fiji to Papua New Guinea but has not imposed any other bans or sanctions, and Fiji remains a full member.

The secretary-general of the Forum Secretariat, Greg Urwin, declined to be interviewed about Commodore Bainimarama's plans and whether he would be welcome at the summit.

But, his press officer, Johnson Honimae, outlined the Forum Secretariat's position.

"As far as the secretariat's concerned, as far as the secretary-general's concerned, basically each government decides on who represents them at the leaders summit every year. And, that is the line that the secretariat is taking. The secretary general has seen the report and that's basically his comment on the issue."

Johnson Honimae.