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Forum awaits election

Shalveen Chand
Monday, August 04, 2014

FIJI'S suspension from the Pacific Islands Forum would be automatically lifted if the general election is deemed free and fair.

The decision was taken by Pacific leaders who were in Palau for the forum leaders meeting.

Fiji's election is 43 days away and according to assurance given by the Fijian Elections Office and Electoral Commission, the election will be free and fair.

The announcement came after the leaders' official retreat at the Pacific Islands Leaders summit in Koror, Palau, on Friday.

According to the forum communique, leaders requested the Ministerial Contact Group to make a recommendation to leaders following the election in Fiji regarding Fiji's readmission to the forum based on an assessment of the report of the Multinational Observer Group and any other factors the MCG wishes to take into account. It said the leaders expressed their expectation that a positive report by the MCG about Fiji's election would form the basis for the MCG to recommend that leaders fully lift Fiji's suspension so that it could participate in all forum activities, including the meetings of the forum leaders.

The Pacific leaders agreed that in these circumstances, the Forum Secretariat would facilitate all Pacific ACP meetings and related activities.

Earlier, New Zealand's Foreign Minister Murray McCully had recommended the forum lift its suspension of Fiji after the September election.

Mr McCully said the discussion on Fiji was likely to be about when and how the country would be readmitted into the forum. He said all indications were that Fiji's election next month would be free and fair. Fiji was suspended from the forum in 2009.

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