Government of the Republic of Fiji
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
A Better Fiji through Excellence in Foreign Service
30th March: Fijian government is committed to hold general elections in 2014 says acting Prime Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs Ratu Inoke Kubuabola.
His statement comes in the wake of New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister McCully’s comments that they will only lift travel bans on Fiji once the Fijian government gives a firm commitment for return to elections.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Ratu Inoke Kubuabola said reforms remained a priority for the Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama-led Government.
“The reforms include that of our elections process which remains a priority for Fiji,” Ratu Inoke said.
Ratu Inoke said the Government had set targets necessary for changes that must be achieved before Fiji can have elections in September 2014.
“Fiji has made remarkable progress and has been able to achieve reforms that have been on the political agenda since Fiji’s Independence,” he said. “We are going to press on with the reforms and have elections in 2014 as we have made known to our people and the international community.”
Ratu Inoke said that while Fiji acknowledged New Zealand’s intentions to re-think its sanctions, as a positive indication, he stressed, the use of the Rugby World Cup as a dangling carrot would not yield their desired results.
“If New Zealand is concerned and keen to help Fiji, then it should lift the sanctions which have prevented qualified people from taking up key Government positions that will prepare Fiji for 2014 and beyond,” he said.
He said Fiji had engaged with partners as part of its Look North Policy and was in the process of acquiring technology that would facilitate an efficient and transparent elections process.
“If New Zealand or Australia is serious about helping Fiji, then rather than be a thorn in our side it should perhaps reconsider its approach.”
He says - “It has been almost five years, by now our neighbors should have realised that Fiji recognises that the closing of their doors means others will have to look elsewhere to press on with the much-needed reforms that will enhance Fiji’s development priorities.”
Fiji, he said, would continue to work on the reforms in its own pace, but reiterated that its deadline was September 2014.
Earlier this month the Indonesian electoral commission visited Fiji and briefed government on their voting system.
“This is indicative of the steps taken by the Fijian government towards elections,” said Ratu Inoke.
“Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama has time and again emphasized his commitment to elections timeline in 2014.
“That timeline remains and nothing has changed as far as government is concerned.
Ratu Inoke added the government is committed to ensuring that good and fair election is conducted.
“New Zealand just doesn’t want to recognize nor understand that Fiji needs to give its people a fair and just election system that makes up the multiracial country of Fiji.” He added.
According to Ratu Inoke these things cannot be achieved overnight, and the government has set the time to 2014.
“What more cast-iron assurance can this be for New Zealand or any other country for that matter,” he reiterated. Ratu Inoke added New Zealand have some real issues to address first before it can, make such a swipe at Fiji, and question the commitment towards elections in 2014.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs P. O. Box 2220 Government Buildings Suva, Fiji