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Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer
5 April 2001
Visit by Fiji Caretaker Foreign Minister Kaliopate Tavola
I was pleased to meet Mr Kaliopate Tavola, Foreign Minister in Fiji's caretaker administration, this morning in Canberra. Mr Tavola is transiting Australia en route to a meeting in South Africa.
I discussed with Mr Tavola the recent announcement by the caretaker administration that elections will be held in Fiji from 25 August to 1 September 2001 and the caretaker administration's commitment to return Fiji to full constitutional democracy through these elections. Australia looks to the caretaker administration to ensure the elections are held strictly in accordance with the 1997 Constitution, which was reaffirmed by the Fiji Court of Appeal on 1 March 2001.
Lines of communication must be kept open with Fiji so we can continue to assist the early return to constitutional and democratic rule in Fiji. Australia has no plans to review its sanctions against Fiji before a fully constitutional and democratic government is in place. But Australia does wish to assist that process and in that context, I told Mr Tavola that the Australian Government would be pleased to contribute FJD (Fiji Dollars) 1 million to assist the holding of elections, as well as provide technical support where appropriate and helpful. This will also include support for civil society to encourage a greater understanding of opportunities for civil participation in democratic procedures through community education and other activities.
For further information: (Ministerial) Matt Francis (02) 6277 7500 or
(Departmental) Julie McDonald (02) 6261 1555