A thaw with Fiji

January 13th, 2010 at 7:54 am by David Farrar

The Dom-Post reports:

New Zealand’s influence in the Pacific region country had been “chiselled away” to the point that “the viability of our operations was under threat”, Mr McCully said yesterday.

The two countries had agreed to post a new diplomatic counsellor in each other’s respective capitals. Deputy heads of mission would be added later.

“We’d got to a point where our viability was under some threat. This will give us the ability to conduct closer to a normal range of activities,” Mr McCully said.

Neither country has top level representation in place after a third New Zealand high commissioner was deported from Suva in November last year and Wellington followed suit, sacking ’s representative here.

New Zealand representation in Suva has dwindled to an acting head of mission, two immigration officials and two NZ Aid officials.

The small staff had put “a huge limit” on what New Zealand could do in Fiji and compromised its historical position as a regional hub for the Pacific, Mr McCully said. …

The new appointments did not signal a change to New Zealand’s substantive policy on Fiji, including continuing sanctions.

“But it does signal the determination to improve the relationship and in particular to be able to agree to disagree about some things,” Mr McCully said.

Agreeing to disagree is always important.

This is a productive step forward. I’m not sure whether it will last, as my reading of the situation is that when one of the Commodore’s appointees comes up against the Australia and NZ travel bans, he has a temper tantrum and starts expelling people.

But the Commodore is the person in charge there for now. He has given himself a ridiculously long time-frame of 2014 before he calls elections. The one good thing about such a ridiculously long period of time, is that if he then refuses to stick to the 2014 schedule, it will be proof that he never plans to surrender power.

What many are now looking for is actual progress towards those elections. Detailing of a process for adopting a new constitution. A timetable for the census etc.

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19 Responses to “A thaw with Fiji”

  1. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    What a load of bollocks Farrar. Fiji is a corrupt dictatorship where the government is now telling judges to put people in jail for the flimsiest of reasons then sacking them when they don’t comply.

    The only “way forward” is for Bananarama to be deposed and the military rule removed. Agree to disagree is code for what, you think a coups is a valid system of election process?

    Why the hell some of you people seem to think the a military takeover is a good thing worth supporting escapes me but if nothing else it tells me that your principles are as flexible as playdoh.

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  2. jaba (2,141 comments) says:

    I think we need to at least try and help get Fiji sorted out. Banning Banana’s supporters from NZ etc isn’t really helping anyone. Look at the arsehole in Zimbabwe .. he has been on the outer with most of the world for decades and he is still there. Death is the only way he will let go of power.
    This thing the Prince of Darkness is doing is a 1st step and there will need to be many more steps to get a result.

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  3. cha (4,017 comments) says:

    What Murray said.

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  4. kiwitoffee (383 comments) says:

    Let’s face it, power is intoxicating. Commodore Bainimarama has had a taste of it and likes it. He wants more. He also wants to re-jig the electoral system to allow…er…just what?
    Everybody is talking democracy but it’s not that simple.
    Fiji is a wonderful country, blessed with natural resources, a relatively well educated population (plenty of schools, a School of Medicine, two universities, an Institute of Technology, etc), a well developed tourism industry, loads of tropical hardwoods (ask Mr Speight) and a once peaceful and happy population.
    So why is it in the state it’s in? Ask the political and business elite who have creamed off the development assistance for generations and kept the public in the dark while themselves living a very much first world lifestyle.
    The sort of democracy they have had since 1970 clearly has not worked to the benefit of the ordinary Fiji citizen.
    Heaven help them if the villagers and cane workers decide that they’ve had enough of poor housing, a slowly crumbling health and education system, a rotten police force (under Mr Savua, at least) and now a dumbed down and shackled media.
    Bad management and disrespect of the needs of the ordinary people does not get much worse than this.
    Commodore Bainimarama has a huge task on his hands.

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  5. tvb (4,421 comments) says:

    We have no choice but to deal with the military junta in Fiji if we are to have any relationship at all. Short of an invasion there is minimal prospect of getting him removed from power. The old constitution was a stupid bit of over prescriptive nonsence. The smart sanctions should remain that is no person directly or indirectly connected with the junta including the hand picked judges should obtain a visa to NZ. All military links should be remian severed and no-one who is resident in NZ should be permitted to trade arms and weapons of any kind to the junta nor aircraft and shipping etc etc.

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  6. David Farrar (1,894 comments) says:

    Murray – engage brain before posting. I have been a critic of the coup and the Commodore consistently so dont bloody suggest otherwise. Ive posted on this scores of times so no excuse for your ill informed rant.

    However the reality is no one is going to depose the Commodore – it would have happened by now. So with a mixture of carrot and stick we push for elections to occur. And that I support.

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  7. cha (4,017 comments) says:

    Meanwhile, the hidden support for Honduras’ coup continues.

    The Honduras coup is a sign:the radical tide can be turned.

    If this were Burma or Iran the assault on democracy would be a global cause celebre. Instead, Obama is sitting on his hands</ip>

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  8. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    No David you’ve been a softcock wishy washy lets all hug and sing together merchant. You are either opposed to military dictatorships or you are not. You are cleary not.

    Tell you grandchildren to push for elections because we’ve been there done that and gotten the bird for it.

    As for tvb with his “we have no choice” line. Load of crap. We always have a choice. The right choice is not always the easy one.

    [DPF: Murray slogans only work for stupid people. You're not stupid despite pretending in this thread. As NZ is not capable of invading Fiji, then we don't have much choice but to work with the Govt. Now that does not mean we should relax sanctions, and that is not what has happened]

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  9. MT_Tinman (3,186 comments) says:

    Fijians tell me Frank (they ALL call him “Frank”) is doing exactly the correct thing, taking time to put an infrastructure into place so the chiefs will not be able to resume their corrupt destructive lifestyle no matter what the result when elections are held.

    Infrastructure that will, among other things, ensure the chiefs cannot sit in Nadi and refuse children the right to education so that they can use those funds for their own lifestyle, that will indeed ensure those children can access free education and free transport to the schools providing it.

    In fact EVERY Fijian resident or citizen I’ve talked to (there’ve been a few) supports the current arrangement, supports Bainimarama and supported the “coup” that prevented Speight, the chiefs and their minions from once again setting up their own little fiefdom in Fiji.

    It’s good to note the current NZ government finally coming to their senses.

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  10. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,903 comments) says:

    Only a year late.

    “New Zealand’s influence in the Pacific region country had been “chiselled away” to the point that “the viability of our operations was under threat”, Mr McCully said yesterday.”

    Fools.

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  11. CharlieBrown (1,012 comments) says:

    This is a good move. Hopefully its a tacit nod to what Bainarama has done, and recognising that the wests condemnation of him was unjust. Hopefully it will allow for a democratic fiji where one person has the same voting power regardless of what race they are. Then hopefully NZ will look at itself and do the same. :-)

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  12. kiwitoffee (383 comments) says:

    Murray:

    Fiji may well be a corrupt dictatorship as you say. But the previous administration was corrupt too (and probably all the preceding ones – ask Mr Rabuka what his net assets are worth these days), and it included people very close to George Speight. That’s the problem.

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  13. CharlieBrown (1,012 comments) says:

    Murray – So you would rather have a segregated country? Now who is being the softcock?

    Did you know that the elected prime minister George Speight deposed is part of bainarama’s government now?

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  14. calendar girl (1,232 comments) says:

    At long last a bit of moderation and common sense from the NZ Government. It made a mistake in continuing the Clark / Peters / Goff’ intransigence towards Fiji, and soon found itself with no influence. Now it is at least talking, and does not need to compromise itself irrevocably in doing so.

    Murray, DFP has been a consistent hardliner vis-a-vis Fiji over recent years. I’m one of those who have questioned his stance from time to time. Even the tone of his latest post shows the scepticism that he retains, justifiably.

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  15. Grant (444 comments) says:

    “The small staff had put “a huge limit” on what New Zealand could do in Fiji and compromised its historical position as a regional hub for the Pacific, Mr McCully said. …
    The preceeding statement can be summed up in one word: China
    G

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  16. TripeWryter (716 comments) says:

    What the Government is doing is sensible.

    Bailing up the commodore and his cronies in a corner is not working.

    New Zealand, and elements of our media, have shown a bullying and condescending attitude to the Fijians.

    What is forgotten is that Fiji is an independent state — it does have the right to order its affairs.

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  17. grumpyoldhori (2,362 comments) says:

    Choice between Bainimarama and Speight, I would rather see the Commodore with his hand on the tiller.
    Maybe dropping Speight off the reef along with a few so called chiefs may help Fiji.

    Remember NZ and Australia do have the power to really fuck up Fiji’s economy if it looks like the good Commodore is never going to call elections.

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  18. Reg (539 comments) says:

    We have cordial relations with country’s a lot worse than Fiji.
    As far as I’m aware the Commodore doesn’t run over protestors with tanks, (China) or assainate political opponents, (Russia).The number of countries that are in effect one party states would be more than those that are truely democratic.
    Fiji’s recent history is a tragedy, but we will only aggravate the suffering of the Fijian people and upset the balance of power in the Pacific if we drive Bananarama in to the arms of China.
    We need active but firm engagement with Fiji, which allows us to maintain the confidence of all the Fijian people and incentivise the route back to democracy.

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  19. kiki (425 comments) says:

    I saw no one protest the arrival of Muammar Gaddafi’s son.

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