23 Jan 2007

Fiji summons New Zealand High Commissioner for discussions on remarks by New Zealand politicians

11:09 am on 23 January 2007

Fiji is to officially express its displeasure over remarks made by the New Zealand prime minister, Helen Clark, and her foreign minister, Winston Peters.

Fiji's military commander and interim prime minister, Commodore Bainimarama, says he has instructed his foreign minister, Ratu Epeli Nailatikau, to summon the New Zealand high commissioner in Suva, Michael Green, for "consultations".

It stems from New Zealand's travel ban on Fiji's public servants including the head of the Prime Minister's Office, Pramesh Chand, and Mr Peter's description of Commodore's Bainimarama's remarks as "empty rhetoric".

Commodore Bainimarama says it is not fair to ban public servants who are merely administrators of the government machinery regardless of who is in political power.

He says the New Zealand high commissioner will be briefed on the progress the interim administration is making in restoring normalcy.

Commodore Bainimarama says he will tolerate no one who frustrates Fiji's efforts in this regard, adding that he would have thought New Zealand would have been more interested in a corruption free, vibrant and progressive Fiji.

Commodore Bainimarama says he is appealing to New Zealand and Australia not to act like big bullies and use intimidation.

But he says if diplomacy does not work, his government will be left with no choice but to take retaliatory measures.