The Government is refusing to comment on reported plans by Fiji to send a high-ranking military officer to serve at its high commission in Wellington.
The move would test a New Zealand travel ban on members of Fiji’s military-led regime, and comes after an announcement by Foreign Minister Murray McCully that the two countries would seek to boost diplomatic links.
Both countries have agreed to post an extra counsellor to their high commissions, but the move has sparked calls by Amnesty International for the New Zealand Government to address human rights abuses in the renewed negotiations.
Fijian news website Fijivillage has reported that the permanent secretary for information and military spokesperson was nominated by the Fiji Government to take up a counsellor’s post in New Zealand.
The website reported that Lieutenant Colonel Neumi Leweni was now “awaiting word” from the New Zealand Government in response to his nomination.
I can’t think of a more provocative person to propose than Leweni. He has been a major figure in the coups, and very involved in the assaults on media freedom in Fiji.
Despite the provocation, I think the NZ Government should allow him to be appointed. He’ll probably do less damage in NZ, than he does in Fiji. But more to the point is it avoids the Commodore being able to claim he is being bullied, and blame NZ for the lack of progress.
I think the Commodore wants NZ to turn down his offsider as High Commissioner. He will use it as propaganda. So don’t play his game, and allow it. It doesn’t mean you have to relax the travel ban on the military – diplomats can be an exception.
The one good thing from the ridiculously long period of waiting until 2014 for elections, is the Commodore will have no excuses left if he doesn’t have free and fair elections by then. So again, lets not give him a partial excuse.