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PNG leader lends support to Bainimarama -

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TICKY FULLERTON, PRESENTER: Fresh from surviving a leadership challenge, Papua New Guinea's prime
minister Michael Somare has been lending his support to Fiji's interim prime minister, Frank

Sir Michael says Papua New Guinea sees Fiji differently from Australia and is not prepared to
criticise Commodore Bainimarama.

The ABC's Philippa McDonald reports from Natadola.

PHILIPPA MCDONALD, REPORTER: The arrival of the grand chief was the kind of endorsement Fiji's
interim prime minister Frank Bainimarama had been hoping for in his "Engaging with the Pacific"

MICHAEL SOMARE, PRIME MINISTER, PNG: He's running the country, the country is surviving, he's
looking at the economic base, how can he sustain the development of Fiji, the tourist industry is

PHILIPPA MCDONALD: Sir Michael Somare says he'd like to see democracy, but he's not prepared to
criticise Fiji like Australia.

MICHAEL SOMARE: We are Melanesians and it's our tradition to help each other.

DEREK SIKUA, PRIME MINISTER, SOLOMON ISLANDS: Our being here is to support Fiji in the initiatives
that would lead to parliamentary democracy in 2014 .

PHILIPPA MCDONALD: There have been few prime ministers or foreign ministers at Fiji's meeting, but
a host of smaller states have sent representatives.

AKUILA YABUKI, CITIZENS' CONSTITUTIONAL FORUM: I think Kiribati and Tuvalu are quite sincere and
they're expressing their commitment. They cannot do without Fiji. Fiji is central to whatever they
want to do.

FRANK BAINIMARAMA, FIJI'S INTERIM PRIME MINISTER: Nothing's going to change the way we do things in
Fiji. We have a roadmap to work towards. We have an election in 2014.

PHILIPPA MCDONALD: An official communiqué emphasised strengthening regional kinships and fostering
solidarity, yet this meeting was only held because Vanuatu cancelled the larger and more
influential Melanesian Spearhead Group meeting because Frank Bainimarama was to become its

Michael Somare nearly didn't come at all. He admits things have been heated in his parliament
recently. He was overheard threatening an opponent.

MICHAEL SOMARE: And I told him that, "You're dead meat." He said, "Repeat it again." "You're dead

PHILIPPA MCDONALD: Sir Michael says he said it in pidgin and the literal meaning is, "I'll meet you
at the polls and you're gone."

Philippa McDonald, Lateline.