Fiji – Australia and New Zealand restore diplomatic relations

Australia and New Zealand will reappoint High Commissioners to Fiji and relax travel sanctions affecting members of its government.

This announcement was made following a meeting in Sydney on Tuesday attended by New Zealand Foreign Minister Mr McCully, Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr and Fijian Foreign Minister Ratu Inoke Kubuabola.

The decision has met with a mixed reaction. “Oceania’s greatest power  – Australia – has finally bowed to the inevitable. That five and-a-half-years of trying to destroy the Bainimarama Government in Fiji has failed. That one of its island satellites has thumbed its nose at its big neighbour and determined its own course in the world,” says blogger and freelance journalest Graham Davis, a longtime commentator on Fiji Affairs .

“For all its economic and political power, Australia could not bring Fiji to heel. It ended in Sydney on Monday not with a bang but a whimper, with Australia being dragged reluctantly to the table by little New Zealand under the distant but relieved gaze of their giant ally, the United States. How humiliating. How unnecessary.”

But a Fiji union leader, Felix Anthony, says there’s much disappointment in Fiji over New Zealand, Australia and Fiji’s decision to restore full diplomatic links.

Anthony, who is National Secretary of the Fiji Trades Union Congress, says Canberra and Wellington are jumping the gun as the Fiji regime has yet to prove the constitution review preceding elections is truly democratic.

“The decision was a bit hasty, premature, simply because we haven’t seen anything concrete on the ground as yet in terms of improvement to human rights, trade union rights in this country and also there have been some serious concerns that have been raised by almost every organisation in this country which are concerned to see a return to democracy.”

Last Friday Akuila Yabaki and his Citizens Constitutional Forum, appeared in the High Court in Suva charged with contempt of court. The charge relates to  an article in Tutaka, CCF’s quarterly newsletter which argued  there was no rule of law in Fiji. They were remanded till October 5

On Tuesday the Suva High Court found the deposed prime minister, Laisenia Qarase,  guilty of six charges of abuse of office, and three charges relating to discharge of duty as a public servant, for property in which he had a private interest. He is to be sentenced on Friday.

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News category: Asia Pacific.

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