KENEKO ISLAND, Marshall Islands, Sept.5 (Xinhua) -- Leaders from the Pacific Islands Forum member countries on Thursday welcomed the release of Fiji's new Constitution on Aug. 22, saying it was an "important step" toward free and fair elections.
The 44th Pacific Islands Forum Leaders' Meeting ended Thursday at Keneko Island, Marshall Islands, by adopting the Majuro Declaration.
On the latest developments in Fiji, the Pacific leaders noted the Forum's ongoing work to encourage and support Fiji's return to parliamentary democracy and reiterated the Forum's intention to remain engaged with Fiji.
Fiji was suspended from the Pacific Islands Forum in May 2009 after it failed to meet a deadline to announce a general election date.
The Pacific leaders reaffirmed their longstanding offer to support Fiji's early return to parliamentary democracy.
They also welcomed the report by the Forum Ministerial Contact Group (MCG) on Fiji, who visited Fiji on April 12, which noted that Fiji has continued to make progress toward holding national elections by September 2014.
The Pacific leaders also expressed a commitment to lift Fiji's suspension from the Forum after free and fair elections in accordance with the guidance from the Special Leaders' Retreat in 2009 and the expectations set by the MCG during their visit in April 2013, and looked forward to inviting Fiji back to the Leaders' Meetings.
The Pacific Islands Forum is an inter-governmental organization which aims to enhance cooperation between the independent countries of the Pacific Ocean and represent their interests. It was founded in 1971 as the South Pacific Forum and became the Pacific Islands Forum in 2000.
The Forum's members are Australia, the Cook Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands, Nauru, New Zealand, Niue, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, the Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, and Vanuatu.