Fiji: formation of political parties

Media release

16 January 2013

The Fiji Government has proposed a decree restricting union leaders and other public officers from founding political parties, and imposing onerous conditions on political party formation.

The Government joins with Australian trade union leaders in raising serious concerns with these proposals.

In the last few days I made clear that Fiji's transition to democracy must enshrine human rights protections, media freedoms, judicial independence and parliamentary checks and balances.

I said there were areas of the draft constitution proposed by Fiji's Constitutional Commission – including the re-establishment of the Great Council of Chiefs and the appointment of a largely unelected People's Assembly – that could reasonably be objected to.

This restriction on the nature of political parties, however, cannot be justified. Vibrant political parties are a vital part of a democracy.

Australia applies travel and financial sanctions on Fiji and members of its government.

Last week I met with Fiji's Foreign Minister, Inoke Kubuabola, to discuss Fiji's return to democracy and other regional issues.

I made clear Australia's sanctions would remain in place until conditions had been met for a genuine democratic transition.

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