24 Dec 2008

Fiji military regime widely criticised over expulsions

4:26 pm on 24 December 2008

Fiji's former ruling SDL party says the expulsion of the New Zealand acting high commissioner is a disgrace.

Caroline McDonald has been ordered to leave Fiji within a week.

The interim Government had been pressing for a travel ban on associates of the regime to be lifted, but it claimed yesterday Ms McDonald had to go because her actions have been contrary to the accepted international norms of diplomatic behaviour.

The party's national director, Peceli Kinivuwai, says that step is arrogant and ignorant.

"It's a disgrace. It's not only sad but very very embarrassing, because it shows the manner in which this very proud nation has decided to uphold its international relations with our neighbouring countries, New Zealand."

Peceli Kinivuwai says New Zealand has done well to respond so quickly by expelling Fiji's acting High Commissioner, Cama Tuiloma.

The chair of the Pacific Island Forum, Toke Talagi, says he's disappointed at the widening rift.

I'm particularily disappointed with the reaction that the interim government in Fiji has taken, given the fact that they have been well aware of the New Zealand and Australian government's stance on sanctions. It'll not help the situation as it stands at the present moment but we'll be dealing with some of these issues when we meet in PNG.

Toke Talagi, chair of the Pacific Island Forum.

The Fiji Women's Rights Movement, says it's surprised and shocked by the expulsion.

Its director, Virisila Buadromo, didn't expect the interim regime would take such drastic measures.

The Fiji Women's Rights Movement is both shocked and surprised by the deportation of Caroline McDonald and her husband. I thought that diplomatic negotiations would have occured. We've already had one New Zealand high commissioner deported; that was ambassador Green and I would have expected that they would have learned from that situation.

Virisila Buadromo says it's unclear how this standoff can be solved.