15 Jul 2008

Pacific Ministers in Fiji to press for elections

11:09 am on 15 July 2008

The Fijian government says it's still too early to say when elections will be held to return the nation to democratic rule.

Foreign ministers from Australia, New Zealand, Tonga, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Tuvalu are currently in Fiji to press the interim government to honour promises for elections early in 2009.

The group has a two hour meeting with Commodore Frank Bainimarama on Tuesday morning and will report to a meeting of the Pacific Islands Forum next month.

Radio New Zealand's Parliamentary chief reporter who is in Suva, reports the ministers said little on the way into the meeting.

New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters has said the group will be looking for a recommittment to democracy from the interim administration.

Commodore Bainimarama says he wants to end corruption before polls can take place.

Last month, Fiji suspended talks with the Fiji Joint Working Group, citing New Zealand and Australia's "neo-colonial" attitudes as one reason.

Fiji's interim attorney-general, Aiyaz Sayed Khayum told Morning Report that New Zealand and Australia have been unwilling to engage in constructive discussions on democracy and described their position as "hypocrticial".

The European Union said during the weekend it has deep concerns that Fiji is pushing back the timeline for elections.

2006 coup

The military took power in Fiji on 5 December, 2006. It was the fourth coup since 1987.

Commodore Bainimarama told his soldiers last month that elections promised for early next year were unlikely to take place because corruption problems remained.