9 Feb 2011

Tonga PM warns Australia and New Zealand over Fiji stance

7:47 pm on 9 February 2011

Tonga's prime minister has warned Australia and New Zealand that trying to bully Fiji's military regime into holding elections will only drive the Pacific nation closer to China.

Lord Tu'ivakano says he supports restoring democracy in Fiji but is concerned about the way Canberra and Wellington are pursuing the goal.

He told the AFP news agency that Pacific people are likely to turn away from others who keep bothering them.

Tu'ivakano says Tonga and neighbouring Fiji are "like family" and he understands why Fiji's interim Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama doesn't want to bow to outside pressure.

The Tongan Prime Minister has encouraged Australia and New Zealand to pursue dialogue with Fiji and to go easy on the interim regime.

Fiji has sought increased aid from China since the 2006 coup and Tu'ivakano says the trend is likely to continue if New Zealand and Australia continue to refuse to have any dealings with Commodore Bainimarama's regime.