Thursday, June 14, 2007

Remember the old tourist line - " Fiji the way the world should be". Yeah right! The military coup continues and democracy is becoming a distant memory.

The coup continues in Fiji and centres on New Zealand at present. The guns are still out and opposition to the military regime is not tolerated - people are regularly invited for a "chat" at the QE Army barracks in Suva, the capital. A number of men are still missing. Many others have described the beatings they have received at the hands of soldiers, including members of the Fijian media. While the military are not evident in other islands,the tentacles of fear reaches out to all of them, reminding them to keep their opinions to themselves.

Fiji is slowly sliding towards being a banana republic along the lines of Mugabes's Zimbabwe - economically ruined and treated like an international pariah. The miltary regime has no regard for its people. What is their secret agenda?

Commodore Voreque Bainimarama set his sights on New Zealand in recent days, by declaring its high commissioner, Michael Green, persona non grata and expelling him from Fiji, giving him only four days to do so, and also refusing to allow two members of the diplomatic protection police force to enter the country and ensure that the diplomat is able to leave safely without harassment from Fijian soldiers. New Zealanders living and holidaying in Fiji have been warned that they could be more at risk now. Green's expulsion was claimed to be because he sat in a seat reserved for Commodore Bainimarama at a recent rugby game between Fiji and a New Zealand Junior All Blacks side, won in a canter by New Zealand. As a representative of the New Zealand Government, Mr Green expressed New Zealand's opposition to the illegal military regime.

New Zealand's Foreign Affairs Minister, Winston Peters, revealed that Fiji tried to strong-arm New Zealand into withdrawing Mr Green or dumping a travel ban New Zealand has on coup leaders, before it finally expelled him. Mr Peters said it was a type of diplomacy that a civilised country like New Zealand did not understand. It is totally unacceptable and speaks volumes about those currently in control in Fiji. Mr Peters and Commodore Bainimarama were personal friends of longstanding until the coup. No doubt Bainimarama is very angry about travel bans and damage to tourist trade from NZ travel warnings.

The New Zealand prime minister, Helen Clark said Fiji's actions were delusional and its behaviour was absolutely disgraceful. She expected Australian prime minister, John Howard to support moves to strengthen sanctions against the illegal military regime in Fiji which could include moves to block the United Nations from using Fijian troops in peacekeeping missions and ensuring that all payments by-pass the regime. New Zealand was reassessing all aspects of the bilateral relationship between the two countries. So far Fiji has been suspended from the Commonwealth and this year's World Netball Championship has been transfered to New Zealand. Claims that New Zealand has bullied Fiji should be treated with contempt; all coups were started within Fiji and had no New Zealand involvement. New Zealand has always assisted Fiji. Claims that Fiji's armed forces were too large in comparison to its population are correct.

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