14 Jul 2010

Australia calls Fiji regime threat of abandoning 2014 elections a ruse

4:54 pm on 14 July 2010

Australian Foreign Minister, Stephen Smith, has dismissed as a ruse a threat by Fiji's military regime to cancel planned elections in 2014.

Fiji's interim Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama, says Fiji might not be ready for an election if it did not get any assistance from Australia and New Zealand.

His comments came shortly after Australia's acting high commissioner, Sarah Roberts, was ordered out of Fiji.

Commodore Bainimarama has accused Canberra of having pressured Vanuatu's Prime Minister Edward Natapei into cancel a meeting of Melanesian Spearhead Group leaders planned for next week in Fiji.

Mr Smith says such claims are nonsense and he told ABC Radio it would be no surprise if an election wasn't held in 2014.

Mr Smith says Australia would persist in its diplomatic efforts with Fiji although it's hard to maintain a one-way dialogue.