20 Dec 2010

Fiji coup plotters assured of no foreign intervention

3:39 pm on 20 December 2010

Leaked diplomatic reports reveal the New Zealand government had told Fiji's Commodore Frank Bainimarama a week before his 2006 coup that neither New Zealand or Australia intended to send troops to Fiji.

The information is contained in US diplomatic cables distributed via the whistleblower website, Wikileaks.

Walter Zweifel reports

"The cables show that in the week before the coup, the New Zealand government said a forced resignation of Laisenia Qarase would be considered as a coup, which Wellington would respond to accordingly. This meant travel bans but no plans for military action which was communicated to Commodore Bainimarama. The assurance coincided with him warning Australia against invading Fiji, while accusing Mr Qarase of selling Fiji's sovereignty to Australians. Fiji's military then carried out full scale exercises in Suva, saying they were about preparing soldiers to use force if there is any intervention in the country by foreign military troops. A month after the coup, he criticised the international reaction to the coup, pointing to what he called a threat of an Australian invasion as shown by the incitement and hostile remarks made by Alexander Downer. Mr Qarase was subsequently charged with treason for allegedly asking for Australian and New Zealand troops to intervene in the early stages of the coup."