Carr backs Fiji's path to elections
Bob Carr. Photo: Quentin Jones
BOB Carr has praised Fiji for ''positive progress'' on the path back to democracy after a visit by regional foreign ministers to the troubled Pacific island nation.
In what appears an attempt to encourage the regime to release its grip on power, Senator Carr and five ministers from the Pacific Island Forum issued a joint statement last night emphasising the need for ''constructive dialogue'' with Fiji.
Commodore Frank Bainimarama - who seized power in a 2006 coup - has pledged to hold elections by September 2014 but has in the past broken promises for democratic reforms. Commodore Bainimarama announced in January he would lift temporary emergency powers to ban public gatherings in Fiji, only to rush in new laws that, in effect, made the powers permanent.
But after two days' talks with officials, the visiting ministers, including from Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, said they had been assured the elections were on track to be held without media restrictions.
They also said there were no plans to reserve seats for the Fiji military. ''Ministers said they were encouraged by the steps taken by Fiji on election planning,'' the statement said.
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