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Fiji Constitutional Commission to begin work in July

05-04-2012 14:28 BJT

SUVA, May 4 (Xinhua) -- Fiji's Constitutional Commission will start its public consultations in July as the island nation prepares for a general election in 2014, Acting Prime Minister and Elections Minister Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum said on Friday.

Chairperson Yash Ghai, who is expected to arrive here on Friday, will supervise the commission's operation, Sayed-Khaiyum told media.

He promised that the Fijian government was working with donor agencies to support the commission, adding that civic education commences this month by government and other organizations.

The public consultation process leading to the establishment of a new constitution will be closely observed by the international community.

Earlier this week, New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said that questions remain about Fiji's plans to hold elections in 2014, five years later than originally scheduled.

McCully made the comment as he was in Suva this week to head the Pacific Islands Forum's Ministerial Contact Group (MCG) meeting with both Fiji's six-year-old military-backed regime and its opponents including the ousted Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase, ousted opposition leader Mick Beddoes and leader of the Fiji Labor Party Mahendra Chaudhry.

McCully told NZ media that as the 2014 date approaches, there is greater likelihood that the elections will take place as scheduled. However, questions remain about whether they will be free, fair, and open to unrestrained media coverage.

"Those are the sorts of signals we're looking for and my own belief is that the way in which the constitutional dialogues that' s being held over the next six months or so plays out will be some sort of proxy for whether elections are going to be free and fair so we're at a pivotal time I think on the developments in Fiji."

The MCG ministers concluded its visit to Fiji on May 1. During their stay in Suva, they met with senior officials of the government and opposition groups as Prime Minster Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama was away from the country.

In a statement before the end of the visit, the MCG ministers thanked Fiji for making officials available for meetings and considered the exchanges and briefing useful to keep them up to date on developments in Fiji.

The ministers said they were encouraged by the steps taken by Fiji on election planning, as well as by information provided about Fiji's intentions, which gave them a sense that Fiji was a country in transition, moving to put in place processes required for elections.

Editor:Wang Lingfei |Source: Xinhua

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