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Commonwealth to discuss lifting Fiji sanctions

Commonwealth to discuss lifting Fiji sanctions


Foreign Affairs Minister Phil Goff says that New Zealand will be discussing with the Commonwealth next week the question of when sanctions against Fiji will be lifted.

“Commonwealth envoy, Justice Pius Langa, a High Court Judge from South Africa, has just returned from Fiji where he has had discussions with the parties involved.

“I understand from Commonwealth Secretary General, Don McKinnon, that a recommendation will be made to the Commonwealth Ministers Action Group in the coming week.

“New Zealand has welcomed the restoration of democracy in Fiji. Along with United Nations and Commonwealth election observer teams, we accept that the overall election process was free and fair, and that the outcome broadly represents the views of the people of Fiji.

“We also accept that as the leader of the largest party in Fiji and with the support of a majority of elected representatives, Mr Qarase is properly Prime Minister of Fiji.

“The one outstanding concern is the question of whether s99(5) of the Fiji constitution has been complied with. This section requires all parties winning more than 10% of the vote to be invited to join the Government.

“Mr Qarase’s decision not to invite Mr Chaudhry to join the Cabinet raises issues of constitutionality and is currently being challenged before the Court of Appeal. Both Mr Qarase and Mr Chaudhry have however undertaken to accept the outcome of the Court case and to respect the rule of law.

“Australia has announced that it will lift sanctions against Fiji on this basis.

“New Zealand will discuss with the Commonwealth Justice Langa’s recommendations and the conclusions reached by the Commonwealth Ministers Action Group before making its own decision in this respect.

“Once we are satisfied that proper constitutional procedures are being followed, New Zealand will be keen to normalise its relationship with Fiji at the earliest opportunity,” Mr Goff said.

ENDS

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