Friday, October 31, 2014

Australia, US lift sanctions imposed on Fiji

Canberra, Oct 31 (IANS) Australia and the US have lifted sanctions they imposed on Fiji after the 2006 coup, media reported Friday.

Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop Friday began a two-day visit to Fiji, and expressed hope the two countries could begin a new and improved relationship together, Xinhua reported.

Both Australia and the US imposed several sanctions on Fiji, mainly relating to visa restrictions, following the bloodless coup by former military commander Frank Bainimarama.

Australia also withheld the sale of military equipment and military cooperation to Fiji, but will now hope to restore those ties following last month’s polls.

Bainimarama’s Fiji First party won September’s general elections by a landslide. He was sworn in as the prime minister.

“Today marks the start of a new era in the relationship between Australia and Fiji,” Bishop said.

“Just an election does not make a country a democracy, there also has to be a commitment to democratic values and democratic institutions. That’s why we will be working with Fiji to support the restoration of a number of democratic values, such as freedom of speech.”

Fiji was restored to the Pacific Islands Forum last week following a six-year suspension.

However, Bainimarama has refused to rejoin the forum, highlighting the difficult process in renewing a stable relationship.

Bainimarama has not publicly announced any measure to restore ties.

Australia, US lift sanctions imposed on Fiji


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