20 Dec 2010

Leaked US cables detail Fiji pre-coup moves

2:41 pm on 20 December 2010

Leaked diplomatic reports reveal the New Zealand government tried to put personal pressure on Fiji's Commodore Frank Bainimarama in the run-up to the 2006 coup as part of efforts to persuade him from seizing power.

A missive from the United States Embassy in Wellington outlines diplomatic moves to relay messages to the Commodore during his visit to New Zealand in late November just days before the coup.

Sally Round reports.

"The report outlines what it calls a strongly worded statement to be delivered to the Commodore at a private lunch by the British Defence Attache as then then Foreign Minister Winston Peters was unavailable. The Embassy pointed out New Zealand's strategy was to focus on the consequences of a coup to both Fiji and to Commodore Bainimarama personally. Among the points to be pressed were that as New Zealand unconditionally supports the rule of law, it would not be able to stand back and let a coup happen without responding. And if the Commodore did something stupid he would not be able to operate around the Pacific. It stressed there would be personal implications for the Commodore with the imposition of a travel ban on entering New Zealand. The report also outlined how the Defence Attache's wife was to emphasise to the Commodore's wife should there be a coup, the couple would no longer be able travel to New Zealand to visit their grandchildren. The cable said the Commodore snubbed US officials' efforts to contact the Commodore during his stay in New Zealand."