10 Jan 2015

Fiji Immigration - Chaudhry not entitled to diplomatic passport

11:00 am on 10 January 2015

Fiji's Immigration Director Nemani Vuniwaqa says diplomatic passports are only used by those who hold high positions in government.

He made the comment after former prime minister Mahendra Chaudhry and his wife were stopped at Nadi airport from traveling to Australia.

Mr Chaudhry said he was told his diplomatic passport -- issued to all former Prime Ministers -- was no longer valid on instruction from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Mr Vuniwaqa says Mr Chaudhry was issued a diplomatic passport in 2007 when he was appointed Minister for Finance.

But he told FBC that when Mr Chaudhry's term was over he should have surrendered his diplomatic passport and he should have applied for the ordinary blue passport like any normal citizen of Fiji.

Mr Vuniwaqa has clarified that there are no travel restrictions for Chaudhry.

Meanwhile, Mr Chaudhry says he informed the Immigration and Foreign Affairs offices of his plan to travel three weeks and he was given the clearance.

The Department of Immigration says former senior government officials who are still holding on to diplomatic passports, and who are no longer entitled to them, should return the passports.

It says they can then apply for the ordinary passports.