Australia urges Fiji to restore democracy

Last Updated: Tuesday, January 3, 2012 - 16:05

Sydney: Australia on Tuesday said Fiji`s announcement that it would lift emergency laws was a "first step" but urged the Pacific state to restore democracy as soon as possible.
Fiji`s military strongman Voreqe Bainimarama said today
that the regulations, including tight censorship of the news
media and a ban on public meetings, would be removed and talks
begin on a new constitution.

"What we are seeing from Commodore Bainimarama is the
announcement of a first step," Australian Prime Minister Julia
Gillard said.

"But from the point of view of the Australian government
all steps need to be taken to restore democracy to Fiji."

"That has been our consistent call."

In his New Year message, Bainimarama said the emergency
laws -- which were imposed in 2009 after a Fiji court ruled
his 2006 coup was illegal -- would be lifted on Saturday to
pave the way for consultation on a new constitution.
"I will, over the next few weeks, announce the nationwide
consultation process which will commence in February 2012,"
Bainimarama said.

Under the Bainimarama regime, Fiji`s constitution was
repealed, the judiciary sacked and the police and military
given powers to detain people without charge.

Australia and New Zealand have called stridently for a
return to democracy in the nation, a significant economic and
travel hub in the South Pacific, and Gillard warned that
Bainimarama had failed in the past to deliver on pledges.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, January 3, 2012 - 16:05

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