Australia is sending a team of observers to Fiji to ensure next month’s general elections are free and fair. It will be the first election in Fiji since Frank Bainimarama seized power in a coup in 2006. The Foreign Minister Julie Bishop says Australia is co-leading a 14 member Multinational Observation Group with Indonesia, India and Papua New Guinea. She’s appointed former Defence and Workplace Relations Minister Peter Reith to lead the Australian team, saying he has a “strong interest in supporting democracy internationally.” Mr Reith says it’s a very important moment for Fiji. “It’s a good opportunity for Fiji, and Australia is keen to be of assistance,” he said.
“From a broad perspective, the objective here is to make a decision at the end of the election, to report on whether or not the outcome of the general election broadly represents the view of the Fijian people.
“That’s the broad objective, and we’re looking forward to being involved.”
Ms Bishop says the Multinational Observation Group is expected to have freedom of movement throughout Fiji and will deal with the Fijian Government, political parties and other Fijian organisations.