11 Feb 2014

Fiji sanctions ease-up not yet justified: Peters

9:50 am on 11 February 2014

A former foreign minister of New Zealand, Winston Peters, says there is not enough evidence of free and fair elections in Fiji to justify New Zealand's sanctions being eased.

The New Zealand government announced last year that sanctions, including travel bans would be eased, and last month allowed into New Zealand a former high ranking military official, Brigadier General Iowane Naivalurua, for talks with government departments on public sector reform.

Brigadier General Naivalurua is now Fiji's Ambassador-at-large.

Mr Peters says dialogue is to be encouraged but the New Zealand government's stance is premature.

"In every way, leading up to the election, during it and after it, freedom, fairness and accountability has to be demonstrated otherwise what's this election going to be about. I mean is it going to be a jack-up? We've got to know that it will not be and that all participants will be given a fair go to put their policies in front of the Fijian constituency."

Winston Peters was one of the architects of New Zealand's so-called smart sanctions against Fiji when he was Foreign Minister at the time of the 2006 coup.