FIJI GOVERNMENTS LOBBY PACIFIC NEIGHBORS

By Samisoni Pareti

SUVA, Fiji Islands (October 22, 2000 – Radio Australia)---Intense lobbying is under way in Fiji ahead of this week's Pacific leader's meeting in Kiribati.

The new interim government and the ousted administration of Prime Minister Mahendra Chaudhry have both dispatched envoys to neighboring countries.

Fiji's interim deputy Prime Minister, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, has been busy traveling the past fortnight and has met leaders in Tonga, Samoa, Nauru and Kiribati.

Ratu Epeli was dispatched on the mission as Fiji attempts to ward off what it believes will be a strong push by Australia and New Zealand for the Pacific Islands Forum to get tough on Fiji's interim government.

Mr. Chaudhry also sent his own special envoy, Dr. Tupeni Baba, who was one of Mr. Chaudhry's deputies and was Fiji's representative to last year's forum meeting in Palau.

A colleague of Dr. Baba, Pratap Chand, said Baba has already met with government officials in Tonga and is spending the weekend meeting officials in Samoa.

Leaders of both countries are being briefed on the ousted government's views on the return of democracy in Fiji and their calls for the formation of a government of national unity.

For additional reports from Radio Australia/Pacific Beat, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia/Pacific Beat.

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