30 Apr 2009

Faleomavaega restates his Fiji views in face of criticism

6:41 pm on 30 April 2009

American Samoa's Congressman Faleomavaega Eni Hunkin says he has every right to speak out about issues affecting the Pacific region, including Fiji.

His comments are in response to criticism from Samoa's Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi about Faleomavaega's recent criticism over what he calls the heavy-handed approach of Australia and New Zealand to the Fiji situation.

Tuilaepa said that Faleomavagea is too far removed from the reality of Pacific politics and that he ignores the fact that the regime in Fiji is a military dictatorship.

However, Faleomavaega says that both as a Pacific leader and as Chairman of a US Foreign Affairs' Subcommittee on the Pacific, it is within his jurisdiction to talk about Fiji.

The Congressman says he stands by his position that Australia or New Zealand should not dictate policy for the US when it comes to relations with any Pacific Island nation.

And he reiterates that it makes no sense for New Zealand and Australia to demand early elections in Fiji while there are deficiencies in Fiji's electoral process which give rise to repeated coups.