24 Dec 2008

New Zealand academic questions who is calling shots in Fiji

10:08 am on 24 December 2008

A New Zealand academic says tit-for-tat expulsions of New Zealand and Fiji's high commissioners in each other's country has made settlement of relations between the two considerably harder.

New Zealand immediately retaliated to Fiji decision on Tuesday to expel its acting High Commissioner, Caroline McDonald, by ordering Fiji's interim High Commissioner in Wellington, Cama Tuiloma, to leave the country.

However, Fiji's move came after the interim regime this week showed a more conciliatory stance when it said it would establish a body to try and rebuild the relationship with New Zealand.

The Canterbury University political scientist Associate Professor, John Henderson, says that given the unpredictability of the Fiji interim regime's recent actions, there are questions over who is calling the shots within the interim government.

"As seems to have happened over just a couple of days, from still maintaining rhetoric at a high level against New Zealand, it looked as though their actions were going to be accommodating. And the sensible tactic there was to look at their actions, not what they say but now their actions in expelling our acting High Commissioner is backing up what they said in criticism of New Zealand as a bully of the region and Australia."

John Henderson.