Fiji sets September 17 for elections

Fiji returns to democracy on September 17 when the island nation holds its first elections in nearly eight years.

Fiji's military rulers have set September 17 as the date for the South Pacific nation's first democratic elections in nearly eight years.

President Epeli Nailatikau "has signed off September 17, 2014 as the day set aside for Fiji's election," a ministry of information statement said on Friday along with the release of an election decree.

The announcement came three weeks after coup leader Commodore Frank Bainimarama relinquished his military command so he could contest the elections as a civilian.

The 59-year-old will remain as interim prime minister until the vote.

After toppling the democratically elected government of Laisenia Qarase in a military coup in December 2006, Commodore Bainimarama tore up the island's constitution, saying it aggravated racial divisions between the indigenous majority and ethnic Indian minority.

A replacement document, adopted last year, includes a ban on serving military entering politics.

After ignoring calls for a swift return to democracy following the coup, Fiji was subjected to a raft of sanctions including suspension from the Commonwealth and the influential 16-nation Pacific Islands Forum.

However, there has been an easing of some sanctions in recent weeks as plans for an election this year began to fall into place.

Source AAP

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