Forum Leaders: Fiji Suspension Ends With Free And Fair Elections

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Treaty to combat illegal fishing also ratified

By Dominique Schwartz

MELBOURNE, Australia (Radio Australia, August 1, 2014) – Pacific leaders meeting in Palau have agreed to automatically lift Fiji's suspension from the Pacific Islands Forum if the country's elections in September are deemed to be free and fair.

The announcement came after the leaders official retreat at the Pacific Islands Leaders summit in Koror.

Earlier, New Zealand's Foreign Minister had recommended the Forum lift its suspension of Fiji after September elections.

Murray McCully said the discussion on Fiji was likely to be about when and how the country will be re-admitted into the Forum.

He said all indications were that Fiji's elections in mid-September will be free and fair.

Fiji was suspended from the Forum in 2009 in the wake of a military coup which saw Rear Admiral Frank Bainimarama installed as interim Prime Minister.

Regional issues

Fisheries will also be a hot topic for regional leaders currently in Palau for the four-day Forum event.

On Tuesday, a treaty to combat illegal fishing and boost regional cooperation to protect vulnerable fish stocks was ratified.

Under the agreement, signatories to the Niue Treaty arrangement will share surveillance and law enforcement powers and exchange data and intelligence on fishing activities.

Ambassador Marlene Moses from Nauru has also spoken out about climate change and the lack of global leadership surrounding sustainable development.

Pacific leaders are pressing for Australia and New Zealand, as full members of the Forum, to be active participants in setting an agenda for a new set of sustainable development goals.

But neither Australia's Prime Minister Tony Abbott nor New Zealand's John Key are present in Koror.

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