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Fiji constitution talks not enough to lift sanctions: New Zealand FM

(Xinhua)

15:34, March 09, 2012

WELLINGTON, March 9 (Xinhua) -- New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said Friday that New Zealand would not lift sanctions against Fiji just because the Fijian government had announced a consultation process on its constitution.

However, McCully told the Radio New Zealand, the consultation process was an important step toward holding elections in Fiji.

Fiji Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama announced Thursday that the consultations between the Constitutional Commission and the people of Fiji would take place between July and September.

McCully said New Zealand would need to respond quickly to the moves, but it did not mean it would immediately lift sanctions on the country, such as the travel ban.

McCully said New Zealand needed to help Fiji put in place free and fair elections by assisting with public education programs.

Fiji's new constitution was expected to be adopted in March 2013, said the report.

In January, the New Zealand government welcomed the lifting of emergency regulations which the Fijian government had used to rule since 2009.

McCully said at the time that the New Zealand government had been calling for the lifting of the regulations as an important step towards the holding of elections in Fiji.

Bainimarama announced in his New Year address an end to the Public Emergency Regulations from Jan. 7.

Bainimarama came to power following a coup in 2006 and the governments of Australia, New Zealand and other Pacific nations have maintained sanctions against the Fijian authorities.

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