1 Jun 2017

NZ and Australia urged to persist over Fiji

7:21 am on 1 June 2017

A former civil servant in charge of Foreign Affairs in Fiji says New Zealand and Australia should persist in raising concerns over democracy in the country.

Robin Nair resigned as permanent secretary of the department in April concerned that the administration was, as he put it, being ruled with an iron fist.

Mr Nair said Fiji is in a militarised democracy, despite the elections in 2014 which saw Frank Bainimarama retain power in a landslide victory.

He said New Zealand and Australia should keep on with quiet diplomacy raising human rights and governance concerns at a senior level at every opportunity.

"Whether it be conversation about development or whether it be conversation about some particular bilateral issue, I think they must inject this into their conversations with Fiji," he said.

Robin Nair said Fiji cares about its relationship with Australia and New Zealand.

"I know that they've been received with hostility whenever they've raised any issues of human rights or any issues of governance especially governance in parliament and they have found it difficult to communicate with Fiji," he said.

"There needs to be some confidence building but at the same time there needs to be further thought given to what degree and how to proceed further with quiet diplomacy. But I 'm not advocating ... escalating it to any other level, apart from dialogue."