New Zealand rejects Fiji charge of undiplomatic behaviour

December 24th, 2008 - 10:22 am ICT by IANS  

Wellington, Dec 24 (DPA) Fiji’s relations with Australia and New Zealand struck a new low Wednesday following the military regime’s expulsions of two senior officials from the South Pacific island state’s biggest neighbours.Fiji told New Zealand’s Acting High Commissioner Caroline McDonald Tuesday to leave the capital Suva in a week, saying she had ignored the military government, which seized power two years ago, and associated only with opposition politicians.

New Zealand Foreign Minister Murray McCully rejected accusations that McDonald had broken the rules of diplomatic behaviour.

He retaliated immediately to her expulsion and gave her Fijian counterpart, Kama Tuiloma, the same marching orders from Wellington.

McDonald was the second senior New Zealand diplomat ordered out by Bainimarama, who expelled former high commissioner Michael Green, claiming similar interference in Fiji’s domestic politics, in June last year.

Meanwhile, Australian has revealed that the defence adviser posted to its high commission, who had been in Suva on a temporary visitor’s visa, had been denied permission to stay.

Australia’s Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said in a statement from Canberra that the two expulsions by Fiji’s military strongman and self-appointed Prime Minister, Commodore Voreqe (Frank) Bainimarama, were destructive.

“The interim government should be focusing all of its efforts on returning Fiji to democracy, not on these destructive decisions which will do no good for the people of Fiji,” he said.

Relations between Australia, New Zealand and Fiji have deteriorated since Bainimarama ousted the elected government in a bloodless coup in December 2006.

New Zealand imposed a travel ban on Fiji officials and their families after Bainimarama ousted the elected government in a bloodless coup in December 2006.

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