12 Aug 2011

Wikileaks reveal American unwillingness to acknowledge Fiji coup in 2006

2:06 pm on 12 August 2011

Leaked cables released by Wikileaks reveal that the United States differed with Australia and New Zealand on how to address the 2006 coup in Fiji.

FBC news reports the US was reluctant to label the actions a coup, saying it could jeopardise Fiji's participation in Iraq.

US Bureau for East Asian and Pacific Affairs official, Steve McGann - who later became US Ambassador to Fiji - stressed Washington's concern that Canberra and Wellington not rush to remove Fiji's participation in UN peacekeeping operations.

Mr McGann noted the importance of Fiji to UN Peacekeeping operations in Baghdad and elsewhere - and that the US would need to carefully consider "when to declare events in Suva a 'coup' which would trigger immediate suspension of all aid under the Foreign Operations Appropriation Act."

In a video conference with Australian and New Zealand officials Mr McGann said the US might initially declare that "an unlawful or unconstitutional change of government" had taken place which would allow flexibility.

Fiji at the time had over 200 UN troops serving in Baghdad.

The leaked cables also reveal that Australia declined a request by then Fiji Prime Minister Laisenia Qarase for Australian military intervention in the country.