AUSTRALIAN PM SENDS OPINION PIECE TO FIJI MEDIA

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Explains reasons for Fiji’s suspension from Forum

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, May 13, 2009) – Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has sent an opinion editorial to Fiji's media outlets explaining why the country's military backed regime has been suspended from the Pacific Islands Forum.

In his opinion piece, Mr. Rudd says Interim Prime Minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama's actions including the recent scrapping of the constitution has damaged Fiji's international standing and the reputation of its military.

Rudd also says that the damage is made worse by the affect on Fiji's economy, already highly vulnerable due to the global financial crisis.

The Australian Prime Minister's piece was provided to local media outlets on Wednesday.

Currently all Fiji's newsrooms are being monitored by censors who have been instructed to only allow positive coverage of the interim government.

Rudd's editorial has not appeared in any of Fiji's media outlets.

The Executive Director of Fijian Civil Society Group, the Citizen's Constitutional Forum, Reverend Aquila Yabaki says Rudd's statement should be available to everyone.

"It's a statement from the Australian Prime Minister. We need to hear it. We want to hear it," he said.

Radio New Zealand International: www.rnzi.com

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