Suva (Fiji): Fiji expelled Australia`s top
diplomat in Suva today as Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama
accused Australia and New Zealand of plotting to embarrass the
Pacific island nation.
The expulsion came hours after the five-member Melanesian
Spearhead Group (MSG) cancelled a summit in Fiji planned for
this month over concerns about democracy and "good governance"
in the military-run country.
The "potential long-term ramifications of allowing Fiji
to chair the MSG this time cannot be ignored," group chairman
and Vanuatu Prime Minister Edward Natapei said in a statement.
Canberra had lobbied for the summit to be postponed, and
a Fiji government statement said the expulsion of acting high
commissioner Sarah Roberts was a direct result of "interfering
with the internal affairs of Fiji and conducting unfriendly
Australia and New Zealand have been among the harshest
critics of Fiji since Bainimarama led a bloodless coup in 2006
and later put back a return to democratic elections from 2009
Bainimarama, speaking from South Korea, was quoted by the
Fiji Sun as saying the summit cancellation was a threat to the
future of the MSG, the only major regional group from which
Australia and New Zealand were excluded.
"I`m disappointed," Bainimarama said, claiming Natapei
was pressured by Australia and New Zealand.