Fiji political group says NZ capitulated to Bainimarama
Fiji political group accuses the New Zealand government of giving into the Commodore Bainimarama regime.
The United Front for a Democratic Fiji says New Zealand has capitulated to Fiji's military regime over its constitution and that sends out dangerous signals to Pacific Island countries.
The group, which includes three of Fiji's main political parties, has hit back at what it calls appeasement of the Fiji regime.
Sally Round reports:
New Zealand's prime minister, John Key, says New Zealand views the constitution as a positive step towards elections even if it's not perfect. In particular, he pointed to the provision for a pardon for anyone involved in past coups.
JOHN KEY: There's one or two things like the immunity that's been offered to the current regime that is part of that constitution. From New Zealand's point of view, yeah, we could sit back and criticise every point of it but in the end it's about tomorrow and not really about yesterday. I think I'd rather accept immunity and get as close as I can to a free and fair election than worry too much about the past.
But that stance has astonished the United Front, whose spokesman is Mick Beddoes.
MICK BEDDOES: Somehow thinking that having an election, no matter how badly constructed or managed or manipulated it is, is a good enough way to get back to a democratic process is absolutely outrageous and absurd.
SALLY ROUND: You've called this appeasement?
MICK BEDDOES: Well, it is, that's what it amounts to. Obviously the kitchen's too hot for him so he's wanting to get out of the kitchen really isn't he? And no doubt the regime is celebrating as we will no doubt know. They've actually managed to outwit the New Zealand prime minister.
Australia had earlier welcomed the release of Fiji's fourth constitution which over the last year has followed a fraught path. A panel led by a renowned international expert drew up the first draft which was then dumped by the Fiji government in favour of its own version drawn up in-house. Mick Beddoes says New Zealand and Australia are ignoring the plight of the people of Fiji. In another development a New Zealand opposition MP Winston Peters has raised questions in parliament over New Zealand's stance and has alleged Wellington was in cahoots with Suva over the treatment of Auckland-based Fiji democracy activists.
WINSTON PETERS: In July last year the Fijian military dictatorship contacted the New Zealand government regarding the freedom and democracy movement. Some kind of deal was struck.
Mr Peters says a New Zealand security agency has been spying on members of a Fiji democracy movement including a former Fiji cabinet minister, Rajesh Singh. He read out a series of texts Mr Singh received and said they were from the Fiji Land forces commander Colonel Mosese Tikoitoga about an upcoming raid on Mr Singh by the Security Intelligence Service.
(WINSTON PETERS READS) "This is a military dictatorship that this government is cuckolding our country with. They leave no doubt that the Fiji dictatorship knew what was happening and the Fiji military had contacts in high places in New Zealand and I want to know how far was the SIS involved."
The acting prime minister Bill English said Mr Peters could make a complaint to authorities. Meanwhile, John Key who is in the Marshall Islands for the annual Pacific Islands Forum, says Fiji should not be allowed back into the Forum until elections are held.
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