3 Nov 2009

Fiji interim regime orders heads of Australia and NZ High Commissions to leave

8:24 pm on 3 November 2009

Fiji's Interim Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama has ordered that the heads of Australia and New Zealand missions in Suva be recalled, accusing them of mis-informing their governments while waging a negative campaign against his country.

The commissioners are being given twenty-four hours to leave Fiji.

Fiji's High Commissioners in New Zealand and Australia have likewise been ordered to return to Fiji immediately.

Commodore Bainimarama made the announcement at Government Buildings in Suva this evening, saying the decision was the result of the impact of the Australian and New Zealand governments' positions on Fiji.

He claims both governments are engaged in dishonest and untruthful strategies to undermine Fiji's judiciary, independent institutions and economy.

This week, Fiji's Chief Justice Justice Anthony Gates criticised Australia and New Zealand for the refusal of travel visas for Sri Lankan judges appointed to the bench and the treatment of a Fiji magistrate who was seeking medical help in New Zealand for her daughter.

New Zealand is represented in Fiji at Deputy High Commissioner level by Todd Cleaver.

New Zealand's High Commissioner Michael Green was expelled in June 2007 for allegedly interfering in Fiji's domestic affairs.

Last December, New Zealand's acting High Commissioner Caroline McDonald was expelled from Fiji because, according to Fiji's Attorney General, she had not been acting like a diplomat.

The Australian High Commissioner, James Batley, is out of Fiji and was due back in Suva on Saturday.