Australia welcomes Fiji PM stepping down from military leadership

Media release

5 March 2014

I welcome the announcement that Fiji Prime Minister Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama has stepped down as Commander of the Republic of Fiji Military Forces in anticipation of contesting the September elections as a political candidate.

This is the latest in a series of positive developments in Fiji's election preparations, and its return to parliamentary democracy.

During my recent visit to Fiji, my Pacific Islands Forum ministerial colleagues and I acknowledged the significant progress made by Fiji toward elections.

Those steps include the appointment of Fiji's Electoral Commission in January 2014, the approval of the constitution in September 2013, the registration of four political parties and more than 543,000 voters.

The Coalition promised to normalise relations with Fiji ahead of last year's Federal election and I am pleased that we are delivering on our promise.

Australia continues to work with the Fiji Government and other donors on Fiji's elections preparations, as well as other public sector engagement.

Two Australian Civilian Corps experts have been deployed to work with the Fiji Elections Office, while two senior Fiji elections officials participated in the Australian Electoral Commission's Elections Visitor Program.

I congratulate Colonel Mosese Tikoitoga on his appointment as Commander of the Fiji Military. Colonel Tikoitoga is a graduate of the Australian Defence Force Staff College and I look forward to Australia restoring full defence cooperation with Fiji.

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