Expelled commissioner concerned for Fiji democracy
Posted Tue Jun 19, 2007 7:15pm AEST
New Zealand's expelled High Commissioner to Fiji, Michael Green, is sceptical about the prospects for a return to democracy under Frank Bainimarama's military-backed administration.
Mr Green says the regime took exception to a speech he delivered in Suva eight weeks ago when he repeated New Zealand's blunt assessment that the coup was neither legal nor constitutional.
And he is not convinced Commodore Bainimarama's commitment to a restoration of democracy and the rule of law is genuine.
"There's an enormous disparity between the things his administration says it stands for - good governance, transparency, accountability - and what they actually do," he said.
He says even though expulsion is an occupational hazard for diplomats in trouble spots, he regrets ending his posting that way.
The Foreign Affairs Minister says it is encouraging that Fiji has agreed in principle to a parliamentary election to be held in early 2009.
Alexander Downer says the interim Fiji regime must make genuine steps toward a swift return to parliamentary democracy.
He says Australia is willing to assist Fiji with technical and financial support for an election if it commits to the agreed timetable.
Commodore Bainimarama has condemned comments from the head of the Australian Army troops could be sent on peacekeeping operations to Fiji