16 Jan 2013

Australia says Fiji regime's party decree unjustifiable

6:46 pm on 16 January 2013

The Australian government says it is joining Australian trade union leaders in raising serious concern about Fiji's decree on the registration of political parties.

The new decree bans union leaders and other public officers from founding political parties.

In a statement, the foreign minister, Bob Carr, says the restriction on the nature of political parties cannot be justified as vibrant parties are a vital part of a democracy.

He says he has told his Fiji counterpart that Australia's sanctions against Fiji will remain in place until conditions have been met for a genuine democratic transition.

Mr Carr says such a transition must enshrine human rights protections, media freedoms, judicial independence and parliamentary checks and balances.

After the regime last week dumped the draft constitution it commissioned, Mr Carr shared some of the regime concerns about reviving the Great Council of Chiefs and appointing a largely unelected People's Assembly.