The Government has welcomed Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama's announcement that emergency laws in the country will come to an end on Saturday.

New Zealand has been calling for the public emergency regulations to be lifted since the Fijian military regime introduced them in 2009.

The regulations give the regime extended powers, restrict people's rights to gather in public, and censor the media.

In his New Year's speech, Commodore Bainimarama announced the regulations would come to an end on January 7 and a consultation process for a new Fijian constitution would be announced in the next few weeks.


Commodore Bainimarama said removing institutionalised discrimination and addressing corruption would be among the aims, the Fiji Times reported.

"The constitution must establish a government that is founded on an electoral system that guarantees equal suffrage - a truly democratic system based on the principle of one person, one vote, one value," he said.

New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully today said the Government had been calling for the regulations to be lifted as an important step towards holding free and fair elections.

"We therefore welcome the announcement that the regulations are to be lifted and the announcement that public consultations will commence on a new constitution in February.

"While there are a range of steps that will be required before free and fair elections can be held, these are important moves in the right direction."

Mr McCully said the international community would want to see the changes improve the lives and freedoms of ordinary Fijians.

Commodore Bainimarama's regime has faced sanctions and international pressure for reform since he seized power in 2006 coup.

He has delayed promised elections several times.