29 Jan 2013

NZ's Goff says Fiji regime has still to show good faith on restoring democracy

7:03 pm on 29 January 2013

New Zealand's Opposition Foreign Affairs spokesman, Phil Goff, says the Fiji regime has not yet shown good faith that it intends to restore democracy to Fiji.

He says the interim government's recall of the draft constitution and burning of proofs was a dramatic and extreme response to what were fairly mainstream proposals for the country.

New Zealand is among donors who have given funds and technical help towards the constitution and promised elections in 2014.

Mr Goff says each day there are warnings from Fiji that New Zealand's good faith may not be reciprocated.

"New Zealand's put half a million dollars into that and I applaud that support for a restoration of democracy but this response really raises the question of whether the government is intending to introduce free and fair elections next year and whether it is committed to a democratic outcome."

Mr Goff says the regime's threat to deport a long-serving social advocate from Fiji and the response of the police to the Ghai draft reveal leader Commodore Frank Bainimarama's autocratic mindset.

But he says channels of dialogue should be kept open between the two countries and the ultimate test will be whether free and fair elections are held.