A Coupfourpointfive investigation has revealed that leaders attending the 38th Pacific Forum Islands Meeting, held in Tonga in October 2007, did not pressure interim Prime Minister and army commander Frank Bainimarama, into accepting a March 2009 timeline to hold free and fair general elections.
This was conveyed to the people of Fiji by Bainimarama himself, through the media upon his return from the Forum Meeting.
Speaking at Nadi Airport, he told journalists the Forum was highly successful in so far as the interest of Fiji and its people were concerned.
This is in total contrast to Bainimarama’s allegations first made in July 2008 and again during his interview with Australian journalist Graham Davies on May 1st, that he was pressured by Australia and New Zealand into accepting a time table to return Fiji to democracy.
Bainimarama told Davies that the Tongan Prime Minister, who was the Forum Chair in his capacity as the meeting host, had assured him that the commitment could be reviewed and that he should make it because it would not be binding.
But his statement on 20th October 2007 made to journalists at Nadi Airport, which is posted on Fiji Government online states - “The language which has gone into the Communiqué (Forum outcome for Fiji elections to be held by March 2009 and agreed to by all Leaders), mirrors exactly what I told the UN General Assembly about three weeks ago as well as the 38th Meeting of the Pacific Islands Forum Leaders”.
“I would like to emphasise that Fiji was not pressured at all in the commitments I have made."
“These commitments are exactly what I have given to the Forum and I am steadfast in fulfilling them in the interest and for the benefit of the people of Fiji."
…”Overall it was time well spent in Tonga. We will now move ahead with necessary follow up action on the commitments made at the Forum Meeting and issues raised in bilateral meetings."