WELLINGTON, (PNA/Xinhua) — The New Zealand government on Thursday announced a program to assist Fiji in proposed elections next year and the easing of some sanctions as the Pacific island nation emerges from military rule.
New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said the New Zealand government welcomed recent moves toward elections, including the release of the final constitution, and wanted to support the elections process.
“A senior official from the New Zealand Electoral Commission has recently participated in elections planning work in Fiji. New Zealand will now offer to resource the on-going work that is taking place,” McCully said in a statement.
“The Cabinet has also agreed some changes which recognize both the progress that has been made in Fiji and the need for support for free and fair elections.”
New Zealand would also reinstate 10 post-graduate scholarships for Fijian students that were suspended after the military takeover in 2006 and to formally revoke sporting sanctions, although individual bans would still apply to sportspeople who were members of the regime and the military.
“Over recent months the government has eased the operation of the travel sanctions, leaving them in place for key regime and military members, but easing the process around family members of less senior figures. We intend to continue down this path as further progress is made toward free and fair elections,” said McCully.
“The decisions announced today have been signaled for some time as important steps toward normalizing the relationship in recognition of election progress.”
The Fijian government has pledged to hold elections in September next year.