13 Jan 2009

Small Fiji party wants possible Fiji suspension removed from Forum agenda

10:53 am on 13 January 2009

A small Fiji political party backing the interim regime, the General Voters Party, has written to the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, asking it to remove the possible suspension of Fiji from the agenda of the leaders summit in Papua New Guinea in two weeks.

Forum leaders will hold an extraordinary meeting in Port Moresby to discuss Fiji's political situation after last August's Niue summit was boycotted by Fiji, whose interim leader, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, has reneged on an earlier promise to hold elections by March.

The leaders said Fiji's suspension was a possibility but Fred Caine of the General Voters Party says such a move would be political suicide and lead to the eventual destruction of the Forum.

Writing to the secretary-general, Tuiloma Neroni Slade, Mr Caine says if the PNG meeting suspends Fiji, he may need to apply for a visa to return to the secretariat in Suva.

He says questions would arise about the future eligibility of Fiji citizens for Forum jobs and there could be implications for the tax-free salary status of non-Fiji Forum staff employed in Suva.