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May 03, 2012 12:00:00 AM
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The National Federation Party has called on the Fiji government to reduce military influence in civilian governance.

The NFP said in a statement the government should also start to remove restrictive decrees and restore full freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of association and access to justice for all.

The NFP statement echoed the call made by Australia and New Zealand earlier this week.

The party said it was not able to meet the Pacific Island Forum ministerial contact group, however the party made a written submission.

The NFP said the visit demonstrates the Forum's genuine commitment to the people of Fiji in the pursuit for an early return to democratic, constitutional governance.

At a press conference in Suva on Tuesday afternoon, Australia and New Zealand said they want to see civilians take up government positions occupied by military officers and are willing to exempt new appointees from sanctions
Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Senator Bob Carr said they had not received any response to this suggestion, but it was a standing offer.

New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said they would like to see civilianisation of the administration and civilians with skills moving into roles that are occupied by the military, including at cabinet level.

At a press conference earlier, acting Prime Minister and Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum had said Fiji's new Parliament will not have any reserved seats for anyone, including the military.

Sayed-Khaiyum was commenting on Tuesday morning on a question that was raised by Carr about the military having a seat reserved in Parliament.

Army officers in cabinet apart from the Prime Minister and Army Commander, Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama include Minister for Public Utilities, Works and Transport Timoci Lesi Natuva, Minister for Local Government, Urban Development, Housing and Environment Samuela Saumatua, and Minister for Youth and Sports Viliame Naupoto.

By Ropate Valemei

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