16 Oct 2017

New Zealand mum about Fiji expulsion threat

3:45 pm on 16 October 2017

The New Zealand foreign ministry is tight-lipped about an apparent threat by Fiji last year to expel the New Zealand High Commissioner Mark Ramsden.

NZ High Commissioner, Mark Ramsden, surveys damage.  (Centre).

Mark Ramsden Photo: NZ High Commisson Facebook

The warning by Fiji's prime minister Frank Bainimarama came to light in a comment by Fiji's former foreign secretary Robin Nair to the ABC.

Mark Ramsden has refused to comment about the threat which Mr Nair says was made by Mr Bainimarama after he was told that Mr Ramsden wanted him to be behind bars.

Mr Nair said Mr Ramsden, who was taken aback and distressed by the threat, told him the statements were false.

A year after Mr Bainimarama's military coup, successive top diplomats from New Zealand were expelled over a three year period after being accused of meddling in Fiji's affairs and undermining its judiciary.

In response to last year's reported spat, the foreign ministry in Wellington said Fiji and New Zealand enjoyed a positive and productive relationship.

Former diplomat Michael Powles said the key thing was to avoid inflaming the situation.

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