5 Aug 2010

Fiji prominent on the agenda at the Pacific Islands Forum today

1:34 pm on 5 August 2010

Pacific Islands Forum leaders are discussing key regional issues such as the Fiji situation today at a special retreat as part of the 41st Forum Leaders Summit in Vanuatu.

Fiji is suspended from the Forum because of the interim government's failure to return the country to democracy.

Johnny Blades reports from Port Vila.

"Fiji's interim Prime Minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama appeared to lure the support of a number of pacific island leaders for his roadmap to democracy when he hosted last months Engaging Fiji meeting. Two of those leaders, the Prime Ministers of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands have chosen to stay away from the Forum summit and it's being seen by some as an endorsement of Fiji's regime against the official Forum stance. Adding fuel to claims of a split in the Forum was a comment by the Kiribati president Anote Tong that Australia and New Zealand should back off and let island countries handle their own problems. However at today's retreat Forum leaders are due to hear the latest update from the ministerial action group on Fiji, and are likely to uphold Fiji's suspension when the final communique is delivered."

Meanwhile, Fiji's interim Prime Minister says New Zealand and Australia shouldn't be part of the Forum.

Commodore Frank Bainimarama told the ABC's Foreign Correspondent programme there used to be a lot of togetherness in the body, but now there's a lot of infighting.

They crept in slowly like the proverbial camel, you know, with their head in, and then their front legs, and then their back legs, and all of a sudden, the owners of the tent were out, and they were inside the tent. I don't think they should be in the Forum. They are not Pacific Islanders.

Commodore Frank Bainimarama says he is not expecting other Pacific countries to fight Fiji's case to be re-allowed entry to the forum.