Friday, May 1, 2009

Fiji leader defies forum deadline call

ABC Pacific News
Last Updated: Fri, 01 May 2009 14:33:00 +1000

Fiji's military leader has again said he has no intention of meeting a demand from the Pacific Islands' Forum to hold elections this year.

The forum has set a deadline of midnight Friday for Fiji to agree to the poll or face suspension from the regional body.

Interim Prime Minister and coup leader Commodore Frank Bainimarama has made it clear there will not be elections until 2014.

He has told Sky News it is Australia and New Zealand that should be expelled.

"If it was up to me, we would remove Australia and New Zealand from the forum," he said.

Ready to talk
As well, the commodore also says he is prepared to take part in a summit with the two countries.

Both Australia and New Zealand ruled out talks with Fiji's coup leader.

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says Fij's's recent actions means he is not taking the offer seriously.

Mr Rudd said: "I don't regard that as a basis for business as usual."

New Zealand's Foreign Minister Murray McCully says an official announcement of suspension from the Pacific Islands Forum is likely in the next couple of days.

But Mr McCully says that doesn't mean that the door will be permanently closed on Mr Bainimarama.

If the suspension goes ahead, it will be the first time in the Pacific Islands' Forum's 38-year history that a member nation has been suspended.

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