By ANA VURU
Fijian Foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola has expressed his gratitude that Fiji has been allowed back into the Commonwealth.
Ratu Inoke was speaking in Suva after Fiji was reinstated into the Commonwealth as a full member last Friday, five years after it was suspended following the military takeover of 2006.
He said Fiji was grateful for lifting of the suspension. He noted that the Commonwealth decision followed the holding of free and fair democratic elections in Fiji this month.
The Fijian Minister referred to the good work of Multinational Observers Group, led by Australia, Indonesia and India, that cleared the election results to be credible and reflecting the wishes of the people of Fiji.
He said that the Government of Fiji would be giving due consideration to the implementation of the Commonwealth’s lifting of suspension.
Fiji was excluded from participating in sporting events and other Commonwealth activities after full suspension in 2009. It was also restricted from attending intergovernmental Commonwealth meetings, including Heads of Government meetings and ministerial meetings.
Earlier this year, Fiji’s full suspension was scaled back, enabling the country to participate in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.
The decision was taken by the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group (CMAG) at their 44th meeting in New York, on the sidelines of the 69th United Nations General Assembly.
It said Fiji’s suspension from the Councils of the Commonwealth should be lifted in recognition of the democratic elections held this month.
Congratulating the newly elected government led by Voreqe Bainimarama, the ministerial group called on all stakeholders in the country to continue working together to strengthen its democratic culture and encouraged them to explore opportunities for dialogue and national reconciliation.
The Commonwealth body particularly commended Fiji’s eight elected female Members of Parliament and the appointment of Fiji’s first female Speaker, Dr Jiko Luveni.
Commonwealth secretary-general Kamalesh Sharma said he was impressed by the new 50-member parliament.
“We know that eight women have been elected to Parliament. There’s a first female speaker in the parliament, I understand it’s the first for south Pacific, so I think that’s a great start for democratic constitutionalism in Fiji,” he said.