2 May 2012

NZ minister encouraged by Fiji 'transit phase'

8:43 am on 2 May 2012

New Zealand's Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully has described Fiji as in a transition phase in which freedom of speech and assembly is beginning to be observed by the military government.

Mr McCully has chaired the Pacific Islands Forum's ministerial contact group in Suva that is examining whether Fiji is on track to hold elections in 2014.

He said he was encouraged by the signs he has seen during the visit.

The group was told by the regime that processes underway would lead to elections by late 2014, that constitutional consultations will be open to all and there will be no media restrictions.

It is the Pacific Islands Forum ministerial team's first visit to Fiji in three years.

The military government was suspended from the Pacific Islands Forum in 2009 when interim Prime Minster Frank Bainimarama failed on his last promise to hold elections after his 2006 coup.