25 Mar 2004

Fiji opposition queries diplomatic appointments

12:09 pm on 25 March 2004

Fiji's opposition leader, Mick Beddoes, has described as absolute nonsense a statement by the foreign minister, Kaliopate Tavola, that the country does not have enough qualified people for diplomatic postings.

Mr Tavola had made the statement when commenting on the posting of the ousted home affairs chief executive, Col Jeremaia Waqanisau, as ambassador to China.

The Labour Party leader, Mahendra Chaudhry, had also criticised the diplomatic service, saying it was being stacked up with those involved in the coup.

Mr Beddoes says Mr Tavola's complaint of not enough qualified people is an insult to the many outstanding and far better qualified citizens of Fiji than the ones he has been appointing.

Mr Beddoes says if the best the SDL government can do is fill diplomatic posts with unqualified, undeserving and highly questionable people with known links to the coup, then he, Mr Beddoes, could happily perform this function.

Mr Beddoes says he could fill diplomatic vacancies with qualified, law-abiding citizens of good character and high standing from all communities in Fiji at no cost to the government.

He says these postings are supposed to involve exemplary citizens who are fit to represent the country, but the government's appointment are anything but that.