27 May 2011

Fiji interim leader adamant Minerva Reefs are Fiji territory

1:51 pm on 27 May 2011

Fiji's interim prime minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, maintains that the Minerva Reefs are Fiji territory.

Fiji Live reports the Commodore saying the area is inside Fiji's exclusive economic zone.

This comes after the Tonga government's chief secretary, Busby Kautoke, accused the Fiji military of destroying navigation beacons in the disputed zone earlier this year.

Mr Kautoke raised the matter after Fiji had claimed its sovereignty had been impugned when the Tonga navy rescued Lieutenant Colonel Ratu Tevita Uluilakeba Mara in the Lau Islands earlier this month.

Ratu Tevita had sought refuge in Tonga after being charged with sedition.

Mr Kautoke says that his rescue was a humanitarian act and must be separated from the violation of Tongan sovereignty on the Minerva Reefs by the Fiji military.

But Commodore Bainimarama says the Reefs are within Fiji's EEZ and the co-ordinates of the EEZ are determined by the United Nations Convention on The Law of the Sea.