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$950k aid for election

Dawn Gibson
Thursday, February 27, 2014

THE US has confirmed it will provide $US500,000 ($F950,000) in aid to Fiji for the upcoming September polls.

The assistance was reassured yesterday by US deputy assistant secretary for East Asia and Pacific affairs Dennise Mathieu.

Ms Mathieu said the US Government looked forward to continuing and strengthening their relations with Fiji in the lead-up to the elections.

She said the US was not beginning new relations with Fiji — they were rather strengthening relations which had always existed between the two countries.

"I recognise that this is a very important time in Fiji's history and at this step, we want to be part of the process to encouraging them in their transition to democracy, which is a work in progress," Ms Mathieu said.

"There are still steps to be taken, but it looks as if the government, as of now, is on a positive trajectory and certainly the United States would like to support that process, encourages that process because we believe that the normalisation of relations with the United States will be to our mutual benefit and will be to the benefit of the larger Asia Pacific region."

The ambassador clarified that the monetary assistance would mainly be invested into voter education in Fiji.

"He (Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama) was very much in a mode of explaining his priorities currently and amongst those, he stated that there will be credible and transparent elections here in Fiji and that was good news and we certainly look forward to seeing the outcome of the elections.

"It's a messy process at times and even after elections are held, it will require work to strengthen the democratic institutions and this is the same wherever it may occur."

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