Fiji's Forum membership to be decided after September's election - Slade

ABC Radio Australia:

Monday, 28 July 2014

Fiji's membership of the Pacific Islands Forum will be discussed at the Forum summit in Palau this week.

But a decision to re-admit Fiji is unlikely to be taken until after September's election returns democratic rule to Fiji.

The Secretary General of the Forum, Tuiloma Neroni Slade says the leaders will also discuss a review of the operations of the Forum and select his replacement who will take office at the end of the year.

Mr Slade tells Hilaire Bule that a decision to re-admit Fiji is likely to be left to the ministerial action group on Fiji.

Presenter: Hilaire Bule

Speaker: Tuiloma Neroni Slade, secretary general, Pacific Islands Forum

SLADE: They will decide in line with their decision last year in Majuro, to revisit the situation in Fiji, after and following free and fair elections in Fiji.

Now, of course, this meeting in Palau is taking place in July and the elections in Fiji will not happen until September. But the Forum leaders will need to decide how they want to act if the elections in Fiji, in September, are free and fair.

Now, I think what they need to do is in because as you know, Forum leaders meet once a year and that's a long time to take a final decision. One way would be to task the Ministerial Contact Group of 6 Foreign Ministers, including the Foreign Minister of Vanuatu, on that group, to continue to monitor the election and to make a report on what they consider to be the freeness and fairness of the elections in Fiji. I think that's one possible way that, but they need to make some decision along those lines.

BULE: What about the status of the French Polynesia and New Caledonia with the Forum, the leaders. Are they going to accept as a full member, during the Palau summit?

SLADE: No, there is no application or request of that sort this time. There has been in the past. They will participate as associate members and they will address the Forum leaders in the Plenary session as associate members.

BULE: Four countries, such as Australia, Vanuatu and New Zealand, they will not take part in this Forum Leaders Meeting in Palau and it seems that, for example, Australia, it seems that it ?? concentrate more on the internal issue, than regional issues?

SLADE: Well, I think all countries do that. I think every country is concerned with their national politics. I don't think you can point to any one country or any one leader who does not do that.
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