26 Apr 2014

Fiji regime leader opens PIDF office

2:56 pm on 26 April 2014

The Fiji regime leader has inaugurated the secretariat of the Pacific Islands Development Forum, which he wants to be seen as the region's pre-eminent grouping.

Rear Admiral Frank Bainimarama says he set out to avoid extravagance and therefore chose an old colonial building in Suva instead of grand headquarters to house a bloated bureaucracy.

He says he wants the Development Forum to reflect the values of ordinary Pacific Islanders, whose interests, he says, are no longer served adequately by the Pacific Islands Forum, which is also based in Suva.

The new organisation's interim secretary general is Feleti Teo of Tuvalu, who is a former Pacific Islands Forum deputy secretary general.

The Fiji regime leader says while he doesn't see the Pacific Islands Forum as a competitor, Fiji is uncertain whether it will rejoin it - five years after its membership was suspended.

Last year, Fiji suggested it would only consider rejoining, if the Forum's key donors, Australia and New Zealand, quit the organisation.

Rear Admiral Bainimarama says he will host his group's second annual gathering in Nadi in June - a month before the summit of the Pacific Islands Forum in Palau.