Fiji Time: 12:29 PM on Saturday 28 November

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Poll support boost

Serafina Silaitoga In Canberra, Australia
Saturday, May 17, 2014

AUSTRALIA will co-lead the international elections observation mission to Fiji in September.

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop confirmed this through a response to questions sent to her office, adding her government had provided $2.65million to support the election process.

"Australia has agreed to co-lead an international elections observation mission to observe Fiji's elections subject to the agreement of terms of reference," Ms Bishop said.

"We are currently working with the Fiji Government on details for the mission.

"We are pleased that a number of countries will contribute observers to the mission.

"The Australian Government has been very clear that it is committed to supporting Fiji in its return to democracy."

Ms Bishop said Australia had always believed that democracy, including democratic institutions, democratic values and the rule of law, provided the strongest basis for a country to grow and prosper.

"I welcome Fiji's progress toward holding elections and confirm that Australia is committed to supporting the election process. We have been working with Fiji and other donors to assist Fiji with its election preparations.

"To date, we have provided experienced election officials to advise the Fiji Elections Office and to fill the important positions of deputy Supervisor of Elections and Director of Operations.

"We have funded two senior Fiji election officials to participate in an Australian Electoral Commission program to see how the 2013 Australian federal elections were run."

Ms Bishop said the funding also included assistance to the electronic voter registration.

"Australia and Fiji have been working to rebuild stronger ties between our governments. My visit in February was a milestone, being the first bilateral visit since 2006.

"Parliamentary Secretary Brett Mason also visited Fiji in April and the secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade will visit this month to discuss ways our public sector agencies can work together.

"Normalisation of defence ties is also a priority. There is a deep affection between the people of Australia and Fiji and our increased engagement with Fiji reflects those very close people-to-people, business and trade and tourism links."

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