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Fiji effort wins UN praise

Tevita Vuibau
Wednesday, April 23, 2014

THE UN has joined a growing chorus of voices expressing pleasure at Fiji's efforts to return to parliamentary democracy by September.

And the UN is willing to help where necessary but will wait for the Fiji Government to make its request, says Fiji's permanent representative to the United Nations, Peter Thomson.

His comments came as he leads the UNFPA/UNDP/UNOPS executive board on their historic first visit to Fiji and the Pacific region this week.

Although the visit is not to discuss the elections specifically, Mr Thomson did take time to convey the views of the 193-country strong United Nations.

"As far as the UN is concerned - the Fiji Government's attitude and certainly my attitude as the permanent representative has been that all our rights and responsibilities have been intact throughout this period in which Fiji has been going through its reforms," he said.

"Obviously everybody is very glad to observe the Fiji roadmap was very closely followed all the way through and elections are now coming up in September as promised.

"So the mood generally at the UN is one of great satisfaction that Fiji is about to have its elections."

He said the UN had a political affairs office whose purpose was to assist countries in the build-up to election.

"It is part of the UN office's remit to assist in any way but it is up to the Fiji Government to request the assistance and there have been various requests along the way to help get us to where we are now.

"There's a Department of Political Affairs within the United Nations that goes around and helps countries prepare for elections and we have been availing ourselves of that."

This latest endorsement of the democratisation process comes after regional powerhouses Australia and New Zealand announced a relaxing of sanctions against Fiji and praised Fiji for working toward election earlier this year.

"From our perspective in New York everything is being done the right way," Mr Thomson said.

"We have a date for elections, the political parties are now campaigning, we have a supervisor of elections in place and negotiations are being done on who will be the observers for the elections."

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