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Debate needed on Fiji bill

2 June 2005

Debate needed on Fiji bill

The Fiji Government's Reconciliation and Unity Bill needs considerable debate if its fundamental aims are to be achieved, Acting Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister, Marian Hobbs said today.

"The New Zealand Government looks forward to discussing the bill with Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase when he visits New Zealand next week," she added. " I was pleased to hear that Prime Minister Qarase was on Radio New Zealand this morning debating the bill."

The bill would set up an independent Reconciliation and Unity Commission. That commission could make recommendations to the President to grant amnesty to those involved and supporters of Fiji's 2000 coup. "New Zealand wants to see a stable, peaceful, democratic and prosperous Fiji, based on genuine reconciliation within and between its different communities," Marian Hobbs said. "Achieving reconciliation and unity is not an easy or straightforward process as other countries that have gone through similar experiences have found.

"Enduring reconciliation can only be created when on the one hand, those responsible for wrongs committed have been held to account for their actions, subjected to sanctions and have demonstrated contrition for the wrongs they have done. On the other side, those wronged against need to accept that sanctions and contrition do provide a basis for reconciliation and moving on. "The extent of the debate that is taking place in Fiji indicates that it is on the journey but has not yet reached that point.

"Fiji must find its own way forward and outsiders cannot set out the blueprint. New Zealand wants discussion to take place in an atmosphere of constructive debate. "We would hope that all participants demonstrate flexibility, sensitivity to each other’s perspectives, readiness to compromise, and determination to find a solution that is acceptable to all."

ENDS

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