15 Jul 2010

Expelled Australian diplomat leaves Fiji

5:09 am on 15 July 2010

Australia's Acting High Commissioner to Fiji has left the country, after being expelled by the interim regime.

Sarah Roberts had been given 24 hours to leave the country after Fiji's leaders accused her of interfering in the country's internal affairs and of "unfriendly acts".

The ABC reports that diplomats from around the world, including the US, Britain, Japan and the EU, were all extremely disappointed with Fiji's decision and gathered to farewell her.

Australia's Foreign Affairs Minister Stephen Smith has dismissed suggestions from Fiji's leader that Australia is interfering in his country's internal affairs.

Fiji's interim prime minister, Commodore Frank Bainimarama, said the deteriorating relationship between the two countries means he may not hold elections in 2014.

Mr Smith, however, says that is just a ruse.

"The suggestions, the allegations, the rhetoric about Australian or New Zealand interference are frankly just nonsense; it's just an excuse by Commodore Bainimarama," he said.

"But we will persist, we won't give up. It is hard to have a one way dialogue but we're not going to give up."

Fiji's interim government is also in the process of organising its own rebel meeting of Pacific island leaders, to be called the Friends of Fiji meeting in Suva next week, excluding Australia, New Zealand and Vanuatu.