13 Sep 2013

NZ's new stance on Fiji premature says Fiji opposition

4:58 am on 13 September 2013

A co-ordinator for the United Front for a Democratic Fiji, Mick Beddoes, says New Zealand's decision to ease up on the Fiji regime is premature.

The New Zealand government says it is easing off some sanctions against Fiji to recognise progress towards elections there next year.

But Mr Beddoes says it is based on a false assumption that everything is on track for free and fair elections next year.

He says his group has not been consulted by the New Zealand government on specific aspects of its latest plan to ease sanctions.

He says the UFDF is dumbfounded by both New Zealand and Australia's change in stance on Fiji.

"We have been advocating greater engagement with the regime by all the international communities and hoping they'll use their power to bear on the regime to get them to have a more open, transparent process but it has been anything but that."

And the opposition New Zealand Labour Party's foreign affairs spokesperson Phil Goff says New Zealand has eased up on Fiji because its hand was forced by Australia.

New Zealand's latest relaxation of sanctions follows an earlier signal from the incoming Australian government that it would change its stance on Fiji.

Mr Goff says he hopes the New Zealand government is also listening to people on the ground in Fiji.

He says the New Zealand government needs to be firm with Suva including making it very clear that international values of human rights need to be respected.

And that should the military regime renege on its promises to have free and fair elections then there will again be consequences in terms of our relationship with Fiji.

Mr Goff says full rights need to be restored in Fiji before full normalisation of relations.