13 Aug 2008

New Zealand lifts travel ban on Fiji coup leader for Niue Forum summit

12:45 pm on 13 August 2008

The New Zealand Government has temporarily lifted its travel ban on the Fiji interim regime to help Commodore Frank Bainimarama attend next week's Pacific Islands Forum summit in Niue.

The leaders of all 16 Forum countries are expected to fly from Auckland to Niue next Tuesday for their two-day meeting.

New Zealand foreign affairs officials say the Government has allowed transit visas for the five-strong Fiji party because the leaders want to be able to interact with Commodore Bainimarama.

Last month, Commmodore Bainimarama said he had no intention of keeping to a commitment made to the leaders at last year's summit that Fiji would hold elections by March.

But the region's foreign ministers, who met in Suva last month, have said the only thing stopping elections is a lack of political will.

The New Zealand Prime Minister, Helen Clark, says the foreign ministers have recommended a way forward in the impasse.

Before holding elections, Commodore Bainimarama wants the People's Charter implemented and the electoral system changed while upholding the constitution.