Fiji PM Hits Out At Australia, New Zealand 'Interference' In Domestic Affairs

Despite disagreements, Bainimarama grateful for assistance after Cyclone Winston

By Ropate Valemei

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Sept. 16, 2016) – Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama was grateful for New Zealand and Australia's continued trade relations and assistance post Severe Tropical Cyclone Winston, but he also criticised the countries for their interference in Fiji's domestic affairs.

Mr Bainimarama made particular reference to the two countries' reactions to the detention and questioning of Fiji Labour Party leader Mahendra Chaudhry, SODELPA leader Sitiveni Rabuka, NFP leader Dr Biman Prasad, unionist Attar Singh, academic Dr Tupeni Baba and Pacific Dialogue's Jone Dakuvula for attending a meeting without a permit as per the requirements of the Public Order Act.

Mr Bainimarama opened the Joint Fiji-Australia, Fiji-New Zealand business councils meeting at the Pearl Resort in Pacific Harbour yesterday where he made the comments.

"You are the glue that binds our economic relationships together through the trade you conduct and the investments you have made in Fiji," he said.

"Let me begin by saying this: in common with most Fijians, I have a great deal of affection for Kiwis and Aussies as people.

"I appreciate their down-to-earth, unpretentious natures; their irreverent sense of humour; and especially their eagerness to come to the help of their mates when they are in trouble."

In common with other Fijians, he said he would never forget the way New Zealand and Australia responded so quickly and so generously to Fiji's desperate need after Tropical Cyclone Winston struck these islands seven months ago.

"We are neighbours and friends and always will be. But we must work harder to align our sometimes testy political and diplomatic relationship more closely with the warm personal and vibrant commercial ties we share as people."

Mr Bainimarama was however unhappy with New Zealand Prime Minister, John Key for hoping the Fiji Government wasn't "silly" about enforcing the provisions of the Public Order Act.

"I don't think "silly" was the appropriate word to use in the circumstances. Just as it was appropriate for him to say last year that I was "mouthing off" about the Pacific Islands Forum," Mr Bainimarama said.

"Being "silly" or mouthing" off is what a parent might say about a wayward child or a teacher might say about a problem student."

Mr Bainimarama suggested the comments were condescending.

He explained that he had made a promise to Fijians that the nightmare many suffered in the past arising from successive breakdowns of law and order would never be repeated.

As the Director of Public Prosecutions had yet to make a decision on the case of the six, Mr Bainimarama said the courts would also deal with the issue independently if the DPP decided to prosecute them.

"So, why has this become and international incident? Why is the spotlight being turned on Fiji simply because it insists on its laws being upheld? Why all the unwarranted expressions of concern from foreign governments and organisations?" .

Fiji Times Online.
Copyright © 2016 Fiji Times Online. All Rights Reserved

Rate this article: 
Average: 3 (1 vote)

Add new comment