15 Feb 2011

Australia still wants Fiji election before 2014

4:00 pm on 15 February 2011

Australia says it still believes Fiji should hold elections before the 2014 date the regime has planned.

Yesterday, the Pacific Islands Forum Ministerial Contact group on Fiji met in Vanuatu to monitor developments.

Fiji has been suspended from the Forum since 2009 over the regime's refusal to return the country to democracy.

Australia's Permanent Secretary for Pacific Affairs, Richard Marles, says elections can and should be held before 2014.

The Australian National University Professor, Brij Lal, says members of the Melanesian Spearhead Group have been giving qualified support to Fiji, but they will want to see progress:

"They too are getting jittery because nothing has happened and so the promises of action have not taken place and I think that as time goes on and as there's no further movement on this front you will find expressions of concern."

Brij Lal says there is goodwill from Australia and New Zealand to further engage with Fiji, but he says there must be some return for both sides