1 Sep 2011

Fiji lobbies for Tavola to become Forum secretary general

1:32 pm on 1 September 2011

Fiji says Melanesian countries are opposed to the Pacific Islands Forum reappointing its secretary-general Tuiloma Neroni Slade for another term.

The Fiji Sun reports that a meeting of Melanesian Spearhead Group ministers in Nadi agreed to endorse Fiji's former foreign minister Kaliopate Tavola as its nominee at next week's Forum summit in New Zealand.

The Forum suspended Fiji's membership two years ago after the interim government reneged on a promise to restore democracy after the 2006 military coup, saying it will hold elections in 2014.

Fiji's interim foreign minister, Ratu Inoke Kubuabola, said Mr Slade's actions at the held of the Forum were designed to shore up support for his own position from powers such as Australia and New Zealand.

The Solomon Islands foreign minister, Peter Shanel, says the two countries should have the Pacific attitude.

He is quoted as saying the US is already consulting and engaging with Fiji and Australia and New Zealand should follow suit.

Last month, the US said it wouldn't be veering from its diplomatic course on Fiji, acting in a support role to Australia and New Zealand.