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Pacific Islands Forum welcomes lifting of Fiji emergency rule

(Xinhua)

08:51, January 05, 2012

SUVA, Jan. 5 (Xinhua) -- The Pacific Islands Forum expressed here Thursday its welcome to Fiji's recent announcement of lifting the Public Emergency Regulation (PER) on Jan. 7.

"This is an important development and a step in the right direction," the forum's Secretary-General Tuiloma Neroni Slade said, noting also the announced proposal for nationwide consultations on a new constitution for Fiji.

The PER has been in place in Fiji since April 10, 2009 after the Bainimarama government took power by the 2006 military coup. Fiji's Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama announced in his New Year Message that the PER will cease by Jan. 7 to facilitate for the consultations on the new constitution which will commence from next month.

Slade expressed hope for the earliest restoration of normality and legitimacy as a result of the lifting of the PER, and also for the broadest measure of inclusive national consultations as vital ingredients for free and fair elections.

He said that the forum leaders had consistently called for the "commencement of genuine, inclusive political dialogue in Fiji between parties without preconditions or predetermined outcomes," as they had done in their September 2011 meeting Communique.

Slade said in doing so, forum leaders also "reaffirmed the underlying values of the forum, which are respect for democracy, good governance and the rule of law."

The secretary general also recalled the clear commitment "of all forum members to encourage and support Fiji's early return to parliamentary democracy, including their standing offer of practical assistance in addressing the challenges faced by Fiji."

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