Fiji 'progressing well' towards election
September 2, 2014 7:10 pm
Australian foreign Minister Julie Bishop is confident Fiji’s coming elections will be a success and vindicate Australia’s controversial move to rekindle ties with the military-led nation.
Elections will be held in exactly two weeks time, the first since coup in 2006.
The Abbott government lifted Australia’s travel bans on senior Fijian military and government figures in March as a goodwill gesture ahead of the much-awaited poll.
The AAP reports it’s understood some within the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade were keen to see the outcome of the election before granting concessions to Commodore Bainimarama.
But the government is confident it made the right call and is hoping its re-engagement with Fiji translates into a free and fair poll come voting day.
Bishop told AAP from Samoa had they not changed their approach to Fiji, Australia would have been excluded from the electoral process.
She says she believes it is far preferable to engage with Fiji and work with them to assist them rather than continue to punish them for events from 2006.
Australia already has sent officials to Suva as part of a multi-national observation team to oversee the run-up to the poll.
Former Liberal minister Peter Reith was named head of Australia’s contingent.
Bishop said reports from the ground suggested things were “progressing well”, and she’d been impressed by the number of registered voters and political parties wanting to partake in the poll.