NEW ZEALAND WADES IN ON FIJI RECONCILIATION BILL

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SUVA, Fiji (Fijilive, June 2) - New Zealand has expressed an interest in the Fiji Government's tabling of the Reconciliation and Unity Bill stating that more discussion should be made on the issue.

Acting Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Marian Hobbs said the Bill needs considerable debate if its fundamentals aimed to be achieved.

"The New Zealand Government looks forward to discussing the Bill with Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase when he visits New Zealand next week," she said.

"I was pleased to hear that Prime Minister Qarase was on Radio New Zealand this morning debating the bill," Hobbs said.

"New Zealand wants to see a stable, peaceful, democratic and prosperous Fiji, based on genuine reconciliation within and between its different communities," Marian Hobbs said.

"Achieving reconciliation and unity is not an easy or straightforward process as other countries that have gone through similar experiences have found," she said.

Hobbs said enduring reconciliation could only be created when those responsible for wrongs committed have been held to account for their actions

She said those who were wronged needed to accept that sanctions and contrition provided a basis for reconciliation and moving on.

"The extent of the debate that is taking place in Fiji indicates that it is on the journey but has not yet reached that point," Hobbs said.

"Fiji must find its own way forward and outsiders cannot set out the blueprint and New Zealand wants discussion to take place in an atmosphere of constructive debate," she said.

"We would hope that all participants demonstrate flexibility, sensitivity to each other's perspectives, readiness to compromise, and determination to find a solution that is acceptable to all."

Foreign Affairs Minister Kaliopate Tavola has already expressed the Government's stand on the Bill, saying discussions on it were an internal affair.

The Fiji Trade Union Congress has expressed its opposition towards the Bill, saying it will launch an international campaign.

Unionist Felix Anthony said FTUC would lobby for support against the Bill from its counterparts in Australia, New Zealand and from around the world.

June 3, 2005

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