6 Nov 2009

Fiji Labour Party leader regrets expulsion of NZ and Australian diplomats

1:26 pm on 6 November 2009

The leader of the Fiji Labour Party says the expulsion of Australian and New Zealand diplomats is regrettable, and the sending of home of academic, Brij Lal, is concerning.

Mahendra Chaudhry, who quit as the interim regime's finance minister last year, says he considers Australia and New Zealand to be important neighbours and development partners.

He says the cutting of diplomatic ties will have an effect on Fiji and the sooner relations are restored the better.

Mr Chaudhry says Australia and New Zealand have had a policy on travel sanctions since 2006 and have a right to determine their own policies.

He says detaining and ordering Professor Lal to leave after he criticised the expulsions does not help the situation.

"I've always maintained that we can only resolve Fiji's problems by engaging, and having dialogue and not by taking measures which are arbitrary."

Mahendra Chaudhry says the Labour Party has been engaging with the interim administration about issues that concern it, such as the harassment of sugar cane farmers.