16 Jul 2009

PNG PM makes contradictory statements over Fiji's Forum suspension

12:47 pm on 16 July 2009

The Papua New Guinea prime minister, Sir Michael Somare, has been making contradictory statements about Fiji's relationship with the Pacific Islands Forum which suspended Fiji in May.

After last week's Vanuatu summit of the Melanesian Spearhead Group, he endorsed a call for the Forum to lift Fiji's suspension.

However, in an interview with Radio Australia this week, Sir Michael said he was not supporting that the suspension be lifted while confirming in the same interview that he was for the suspension to be lifted.

He went on to suggest that the Biketawa Declaration, which was the basis for the Forum's move against Fiji, no longer applies because Fiji has no constitution.

Sir Michael says once Fiji has a constitution again, the Biketawa Declaration on a co-ordinated Forum reaction to a crisis will apply.

It was drawn up by the Forum in 2000 in response to the two coups which ousted the Fiji government, led by Mahendra Chaudhry and the Solomon Islands prime minister, Bartholomew Ulufa'alu.

Earlier this year, the Fiji interim attorney-general Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said the Biketawa Declaration was not applicable because there was no crisis in Fiji as it had a constitutional government.