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Decision after polls

Nasik Swami
Tuesday, July 29, 2014

THE Secretary-General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Tuiloma Neroni Slade, believes the forum's Ministerial Contact Group could monitor Fiji's election in September then make a recommendation of the possible lifting of the country's suspension from the forum.

Mr Slade's comments follow the possibility of the region's foreign ministers being tasked with deciding whether to lift the suspension of Fiji's membership at the leaders' meeting in Palau this week.

Speaking to ABC in a report carried by Pacnews, the secretary-general said the forum members agreed at their summit in Majuro in Marshall Islands last September they would revisit Fiji's suspension this year.

However, Mr Slade said they would only do so after Fiji holds "free and fair elections".

"Forum leaders meet once a year and that's a long time to make a final decision," he said.

"One way would be to task the Ministerial Contact Group of six foreign ministers — including the foreign minister of Vanuatu — to continue to monitor the election and make a report on what they consider to be the freeness and fairness of the elections in Fiji."

Fiji was suspended from the forum in 2009. In June, New Zealand Prime Minister John Key flagged he would discuss Fiji's possible return to the Forum during a visit to Samoa, Tonga and Niue.

However, Fiji's Foreign Affairs Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola previously said Fiji wouldn't seek to renew its membership unless Australia and New Zealand were expelled as members.

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