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Secretary-General says lifting of PER ‘long overdue’

By Tevita Vuibau SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Jan. 4, 2012) - The Commonwealth is willing to provide assistance and act as a partner to the Fiji Government in order to allow it to return to democracy.

The offer comes after the Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama announced government's decision to lift the Public Emergency Regulations on Saturday.

In a statement from the Commonwealth, Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma said the move to lift the PER was a positive one which was long overdue.

He said the decision was one which the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) ù the custodian of Commonwealth values and principles, had long campaigned for.

Mr Sharma said the CMAG had repeatedly urged the authorities in Fiji to lift the PER and respect the human rights of all its people.

He also praised the further announcements made by the Prime Minister which included the formulation of a new Constitution.

"The Commonwealth also welcomes the announcement of national consultations on a new Constitution commencing in February 2012," he said.

Mr Sharma said the Commonwealth hoped the consultations would be fully inclusive and time bound- leading to a genuine national consensus on the Constitution.

He said the Commonwealth hoped to see the consultations lead to credible elections and the return of a democratically elected government.

Fiji was initially suspended from the Commonwealth in 2009 for failing to commit to holding credible elections by October 2010.

Fiji was also suspended from the Commonwealth in 1987 after two military coups by Sitiveni Rabuka, but was readmitted 10 years later when democracy was restored.

It was also suspended in 2000 for 18 months.

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