Fiji has assured the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Council of Ministers in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, of its commitment to holding free and fair election in March 2009.

In a statement to the 87th Session of the Council, Foreign Minister Ratu Epeli Nailatikau said: "Fiji is committed to holding free, fair and transparent democratic elections in March 2009."

He noted several positive progresses, which include: the timely completion of the national census in 2007. The census is required at redrawing of the electoral boundaries.

The electoral commission and electoral boundaries commission have, since the appointment of commissioners, commenced operations. The Minister said the commissions have since been operating in complete independence in the pursuit of their mandated tasks.

Mr Nailatikau said the appointment of a new supervisor of elections at the end of May (2008), together with the earlier appointment of the deputy supervisor of elections, the elections office has now been assigned adequate staff to ensure the smooth and effective running of daily operations.

He confirmed that funding has been set aside in the 2008 national budget for preparatory work on the elections.

The Fiji Election Office has been allocated FJD$3.5 million for voter registration and this process is expected to begin as early as this month.