Fiji's military junta has dismissed pressure for elections before 2014 as futile as it faced a barrage of Western calls for a swift return to democracy during a UN human rights council meeting in Geneva.
Delegation chief Peceli Vocea indicated during a UN review of the Pacific nation's human rights record yesterday that a lifting of emergency laws could be imminent and the military government would press ahead with its "road map for democracy".
However, he insisted that the road map, which targets a new constitution for September 2013 and elections a year later, could not be accelerated.
"I respectfully urge the international community . . . to support Fiji in its endeavour to fulfil the desires of the government of Fiji's road map," he told the 47 member states in the Geneva-based council.
"Demanding an earlier date for elections is futile, at this stage," he added.
At the end of the debate, Vocea departed from his prepared speech to discuss the Public Emergency Regulations.
"Let me reiterate that the PER is not permanent and will be lifted on a . . . decree, which is imminent," the Fijian ambassador said.
Military commander Frank Bainimarama overthrew Fiji's elected government in a 2006 coup.
Fiji was suspended from the 16-nation Pacific Islands Forum last May and from the Commonwealth in September over Commodore Bainimarama's broken promises to hold elections by last March.
He also sacked the judiciary and tightened media censorship last year, prompting widespread international condemnation led by Australia and New Zealand.
In Geneva, the two countries condemned "widespread human rights abuses" by an "unlawful interim government" since the coup, calling for an immediate end to emergency regulations introduced last April.
Australian delegate Miranda Brown rejected the poll timetable. (The Australian/AFP/Pacific Media Watch):