9 May 2008

Fiji interim Government claims Australia using foreign aid to oppose it

2:06 pm on 9 May 2008

Fiji's military-led regime claims Australia is using foreign aid to encourage its opponents.

The Australian newspaper reports the Fiji interim Attorney General Aiyaz Sayed-Khaiyum as saying the foreign aid agency AusAid had been using its financial resources to favour Fiji judges who were perceived to be opponents of the Fiji government.

But the government has rejected the accusations.

A spokeswoman says Australia repositioned its aid programme since the 2006 coup and included not supporting activities compromised by the military or interim government; and as far as possible, Australia's actions will not hurt the people of Fiji.

Mr Sayed-Khaiyum says AusAid had, under pressure from a democracy lobbyist, withdrawn nearly 200,000 US dollars that had been earmarked for new legal aid facilities in Fiji.

And Mr Sayed Khaiyum says the Fiji Law Society had also uninvited him to a conference after being subjected to pressure from AusAid.

He also says AusAID has been choosing magistrates and judges to send them to conferences without going through proper channels.