Australia, NZ Focus on Fiji Democracy, as China Ties Strengthen

“We are keen to see the country make a transition to democracy,” Mr Carr said. “We’ll make a decision on the lifting of the sanctions when it’s clear the commitment to democracy is irreversible.”
Australia, NZ Focus on Fiji Democracy, as China Ties Strengthen
The Fijian flag is pictured on Dec. 7, 2006 in Suva, Fiji. Mr Carr told ABC Radio there were no immediate plans to lift the suspensions against Fiji. (Phil Walter/Getty Images)
<a><img class="size-large wp-image-1784193" title="72758578" src="" alt=" The Fijian flag" width="590" height="442"/></a>
 The Fijian flag

Australia and New Zealand will meet this week to assess how well Fiji is transitioning back to democracy, as the Bainimarama-led military government has been busy strengthening its ties with China.

Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr and New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully will meet with their Fijian counterpart in Sydney on July 30 to assess how well Fiji is meeting its promise to return to democracy, and whether Fiji’s general election in 2014 is still on cue.

Last week, Mr McCully announced a $NZ2 million ($A1.54 million) injection to help Fiji with voter registration, constitutional process and voter education.

‘‘We’ve been given an assurance by the [Fiji’s] attorney general ... that there would be freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of the media to report on the work of the commission,’' he said, Stuff NZ reported.

‘‘I was very clear that there were no strings attached. Subsequently, they’ve asked for some help from the New Zealand Elections Enrollment Centre, and we’ve had an expert up several times in recent months. They’ve asked for additional resourcing as well.’’

Fiji’s slow progress on returning to democracy and election issues contributed to its suspension from the 16-nation Pacific Islands Forum in 2009.