17 Jul 2008

NZ govt stands firm on sanctions against Fiji

10:04 am on 17 July 2008

New Zealand Foreign Affairs Minister has defended his country's decision to maintain sanctions against Fiji, as the Forum Ministerial Contact Group he is a part of rounded up talks in Suva.

Winston Peters says that as with New Zealand's stand against the military government in Thailand, sanctions would only be relaxed if there are constructive steps taken towards a return to democratic governance.

He said he had been assured that majority of the people in Fiji supported the sanctions adding interim administration leader Frank Bainimarama was no different from the civil coup of 2000 led by George Speight.

"You don't have a coup, change a government at the barrel of a gun and it comes without a cost. And it was forewarned. The Commodore (Frank Bainimarama) was told before the coup and immediately after what the consequences would be - they are no different from the year 200 where we still have those sanctions in place with respect to certain people who were involved in it."

Winston Peters says that last year when Thailand made moves towards holding elections, New Zealand eased the sanctions, and believes it is possible in Fiji too.