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Travel ban lifts

Timoci Vula
Tuesday, April 01, 2014

NEIGHBOURS Australia and New Zealand have lifted all travel sanctions against Fiji.

This includes the ban imposed on the Prime Minister, ministers, military personnel and their family members, government appointees and the judiciary.

The two countries' Foreign Affairs Office said yesterday the positive review of the travel ban was a result of Fiji's progress shown so far in returning the country to democratic rule.

In response, the Fijian Government said it was pleased with the decision of the Australian and New Zealand governments to lift all existing sanctions.

In her official statement, Australia's Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop said they welcomed the opportunity to support Fiji's return to democracy within the Pacific family.

"We are confident that lifting travel restrictions will lay a framework for closer dialogue and cooperation with Fiji on bilateral and regional issues," Ms Bishop said.

"Australia will work with the Government of Fiji and other donors to support Fiji's 17 September election preparations."

New Zealand's Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said Fiji's progress towards an election deserved recognition from the Pacific region and the international community.

"There are now more than 500,000 people registered to vote in the September elections, electoral commissioners have been appointed and importantly, Commodore (now Rear Admiral Voreqe) Bainimarama has stepped down as the head of the military," Mr McCully said.

He said the visit by the Pacific Islands Forum Ministerial Contact Group in February was a success and the Commonwealth recently acknowledged the progress that Fiji was making.

He noted the release of the Electoral Decree last week, the appointment of the Supervisor of Elections and the announcement of an election date, which he said resulted in ending remaining travel sanctions in place against Fiji.

"This is a continuation of our policy to support Fiji's return to democratic rule and reflects our close cooperation with Australia on matters relating to Fiji.

"The changes will end New Zealand's travel ban, and remove all remaining restrictions on New Zealand government departments working directly with their Fiji counterparts.

"Lifting our remaining sanctions will allow us to throw our full weight behind supporting Fiji's return to democracy and normalise our relationship with one of our closest neighbours."

In the statement issued by the Ministry of Information, it said the government had always maintained that the three governments - Australia, NZ and Fiji - could work together "if it is on the basis of a mutual respect for national sovereignty and on equal terms".

"The removal of sanctions is a positive step towards restoring normal relations between our governments. The relations between our peoples have never weakened.

"We now look forward to working with Australia and New Zealand on a number of areas of shared interest."

The travel ban on Fiji has been in place for more than seven years since December 2006.

In her official statement, Australia's Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop said they welcomed the opportunity to support Fiji's return to democracy within the Pacific family.

"We are confident that lifting travel restrictions will lay a framework for closer dialogue and co-operation with Fiji on bilateral and regional issues," Ms Bishop said.

"Australia will work with the government of Fiji and other donors to support Fiji's 17 September election preparations."

New Zealand's Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said Fiji's progress towards an election deserved recognition from the Pacific region and the international community.

"There are now more than 500,000 people registered to vote in the September elections, electoral commissioners have been appointed and importantly, Commodore (now Rear Admiral Voreqe) Bainimarama has stepped down as the head of the military," Mr McCully said.

He said the visit by the Pacific Islands Forum Ministerial Contact Group in February was a success and the Commonwealth recently acknowledged the progress that Fiji was making.

He noted the release of the Electoral Decree last week, the appointment of the Supervisor of Elections and the announcement of an election date, which he said resulted in ending remaining travel sanctions in place against Fiji.

"This is a continuation of our policy to support Fiji's return to democratic rule and reflects our close co-operation with Australia on matters relating to Fiji.

"The changes will end New Zealand's travel ban, and remove all remaining restrictions on New Zealand government departments working directly with their Fiji counterparts.

"Lifting our remaining sanctions will allow us to throw our full weight behind supporting Fiji's return to democracy and normalise our relationship with one of our closest neighbours."

In the statement issued by the Ministry of Information, it said the government had always maintained that the three governments - Australia, NZ and Fiji - could work together "if it is on the basis of a mutual respect for national sovereignty and on equal terms".

"The removal of sanctions is a positive step towards restoring normal relations between our governments.

"The relations between our peoples have never weakened.

"We now look forward to working with Australia and New Zealand on a number of areas of shared interest."

The travel ban on Fiji has been in place for more than seven years since December 2006.


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