27 Jun 2007

New Zealand leaders decide on stronger sanctions against Fiji, but delay announcement

7:20 pm on 27 June 2007

New Zealand leaders have decided on new sanctions against Fiji but will wait until cabinet votes next week before making an announcement.

It had been expected New Zealand would detail a series of new sanctions against Fiji, in response to the expulsion of High Commissioner Michael Green.

But a spokesman for Foreign Minister Winston Peters says the measures must be voted on by a full cabinet meeting before being formally announced.

The already frosty relations between the two countries deteriorated further on June 14 when Fiji declared Mr Green persona non grata, and accused him of interfering in the nation's affairs.

The new sanctions will come on top of those already imposed on Fiji following last December's military coup.

Those so-called "smart sanctions" were designed to target leaders of the military coup but not impact on ordinary people in Fiji.

Under the existing sanctions, members of Fiji's interim government, its supporters and members of the military are prevented from entering New Zealand, but there is expectation that tougher new measures will extend the bans to stop all transit through the country by coup supporters.

There have also been reports the number of people affected by the measures will be widened to include senior Fiji public servants and that New Zealand will tie the sanctions to tangible progress towards democracy.