THE NEW ZEALAND Government will start easing some sanctions on Fiji among other things to support progress in the lead-up to next year's national elections.
In a statement issued by the New Zealand Government yesterday, Foreign Minister Murray McCully said New Zealand welcomed recent moves toward elections, including the release of the 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," Mr McCully said.
He said Cabinet also agreed on some changes and recognised the progress that was made in Fiji and the need to support free and fair elections.
Mr McCully said they had decided to reinstate 10 post graduate scholarships for Fijian students.
"We have also agreed to formally revoke the sporting sanctions instituted in 2006," Mr McCully said.
"While it has been our practice to provide exemptions from this ban in virtually every case, we judge that the time is now right to formally revoke the ban. Individual bans will still apply to members of teams, who are caught by the sanctions on members of the government and the military."
He said in recent month's travel sanctions were in place for government and military members but eased around family members of less senior figures.
"We intend to continue down this path as further progress is made towards free and fair elections," Mr McCully said.
"The decisions announced today have been signalled for some time as important steps toward normalising the relationship in recognition of election progress."
No comments were available from the Fijian government last night, however, Information permanent secretary Sharon Smith-Johns said a statement could be released today.