Tuesday, 9 December 2008 7:10 AM

Forum Ministerial Contact Group Returns to Fiji

The Pacific Islands Forum Ministerial Contact Group on Fiji will make a second visit to Fiji, 10 - 12 December 2008 as part of the Forum Leaders' mandate for the Group to monitor the situation in Fiji following the events of 5 December 2006.

The Ministerial Contact Group comprises the Foreign Ministers of Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga and Tuvalu. Tonga is Chair of the Group.

At their 39th Meeting in Niue last August, Leaders tasked the Group with continued monitoring of the situation in Fiji including the possibility of the Group returning to the country, and directed it to report back to Leaders before the end of 2008 on the situation regarding election preparations, and other key issues.

Leaders also directed that the Ministerial Contact Group's report on its second visit to Fiji should include recommendations, taking into account practice in the Commonwealth and other relevant organisations, on further measures that the Forum should take to promote compliance by the Fiji Interim Government with its 2007 Vava'u election undertakings, with a view to strengthening the Forum's efforts under the Biketawa Declaration.

Fiji's interim Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama made a commitment to the Forum Leaders' meeting in Tonga in 2007 that an election will be held in Fiji in the first quarter of 2009.

During the second visit the Forum Ministerial Contact Group will meet with the interim Prime Minister and members of his interim government as well as the Electoral Office and Commission. The Group will also meet with other stakeholders such as the major political parties.

Forum Leaders will consider the holding of a special meeting after they have received the second report of the Forum Ministerial Contact Group on Fiji.