3 Jan 2012

Commonwealth welcomes latest Fiji plan to end emergency rule

10:51 am on 3 January 2012

The Commonwealth has welcomed the announcement by Fiji's interim prime minister Commodore Frank Bainimarama that the public emergency regulations will be lifted on Saturday.

Its Secretary-General, Kamalesh Sharma, says this is a positive step, which was long overdue.

The Commonwealth has also welcomed the announcement of national consultations on a new constitution starting next month.

Mr Sharma says he hopes such consultations will be fully inclusive and that they will lead to a genuine national consensus on the constitution, clearing the way for credible elections and the return of a democratically elected government without further delay.

Emergency rule was imposed by the Fiji regime in 2009 after it had abrogated the 1997 constitution and sacked the judiciary in response to an appeal court ruling declaring Commodore Banimarama's interim government illegal.

Commodore Bainimarama initially said the emergency would last about a month, but the regime kept extending it while promising to end it once a media decree was in place.

However, after the media decree was applied in June 2010, the regime reneged on its promise.

It now says the emergency regulations will be lifted on Saturday.