April 30, 2012
The Australian: Removing Fiji sanctions long way off - Carr
From: AAP April 30, 2012 7:27AM
FOREIGN Minister Bob Carr says removing sanctions on Fiji is a long way off.
Senator Carr will travel to Fiji today to discuss the country's planned return to democracy with the Pacific Islands Forum Ministerial Contact Group.
The contact group meeting comes as the country carries out consultations on a new constitution ahead of promised 2014 elections.
Senator Carr said talk of removing sanctions was premature.
"Reducing sanctions that apply, not to the people of Fiji, but to members of the interim government, would be several steps into the future," Senator Carr told ABC radio.
"We need to see a robust democracy functioning in Fiji."
Senator Carr will attend the meeting with ministers from the governments of New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and other Pacific Island nations.
Commodore Bainimarama drew rare international praise in January when he announced his intention to lift draconian public emergency regulations that had been in place since April 2009.
But those changes were quickly undermined when he enacted new laws giving him many of the same powers he exercised under emergency rule.
The Pacific Islands Forum suspended Fiji in 2009 but created the contact group to continue dialogue with the regime.
The federal opposition has urged Senator Carr to re-establish relations with Prime Minister Bainimarama.