Friday, 20 June 2008 5:27 AM

Fiji's Interim PM Questions Forum Group's Merit

Fiji's interim Prime Minister, Voreqe Bainimarama, has questioned the merit of the Forum-Fiji Joint Working Group following a recent travel ban.

According to Fijilive, Commodore Bainimarama raised the concerns following a travel ban placed Robyn Storck, the newly appointed chairman of Fijian Holdings Limited.

'In a statement, acting Deputy Permanent Secretary for Information, Major Neumi Leweni said Australia and New Zealand continued to apply bans on civil servants including those participating in the working group like the Prime Minister's permanent secretary'.

'Leweni said while the Government was participating in the working group's discussion on a genuine basis, their position, in particular that of Australia and New Zealand, was hypocritical and insincere in moving Fiji forward'.

'He said it appeared that Australia and New Zealand are bent on sabotaging the efforts of the interim Government in building strong and accountable institutions and publicly owned enterprises'.

Australia and New Zealand had imposed travel bans on members of the interim government following the 2006 military coup, which are still in place and which both countries say will be lifted only when Fiji returns to democratic rule via the holding of democratic elections.
Commodore Bainimarama has been repeatedly reaffirming that Fiji will hold national elections next year. However, just this week, Commodore Bainimarama told a European Union delegation that elections could be delayed by his plans to change his country's electoral system.

The Forum-Fiji Joint Working Group had recently concluded a meeting discussing recent events in Fiji including media freedom, return to democratic rule and cases of human rights abuses.

By SECRETARIAT OF THE PACIFIC COMMUNITY